Mum advised to find £77,000 after email scam or lose another £30,000
Hillsborough woman praises family and friends for support during the 'worst week of her life'
A Co Down woman who was conned out of nearly £80,000 was told she had days to find the same sum again or risk losing the £30,000 deposit she had placed on her new home.
Amanda Jackson has thanked her friends and family who have rallied together to help her raise the money in order to fulfil her contractual agreements in buying her new home.
However, the single mum-of-two from Hillsborough has said that the loans can be only short term unless the £76,959 stolen from her is returned.
Amanda found herself in the mire after falling victim to an email scam.
The solicitors handling the purchase of her home emailed her their bank details to transfer the money from the sale of her marital home in order to complete the transaction on her new home.
Amanda explained: "The past six years of my life have been a living hell.
"I've went through a divorce, my mother died last year and my father is on radiotherapy treatment.
"I turned 40 this year and thought, 'right this is a chance at a new start'."
Within hours of the first email, the dental nurse trainer received another message, which looked like the original and appeared to be part of the email string from the first.
It apologised, saying the original details were incorrect and she should send the money to the amended account number and sort code provided.
So in fear of there being a problem with the transaction, Amanda went along to her bank herself to ensure there were no issues.
She added: "I filled in a form with the account name, the account number and the sort code.
"The woman over the counter actually said I could have done it online, but I told her I didn't want anything to go wrong - I actually said that.
"That was on the Friday and on the Monday my solicitor called to say there was no money in their account.
"I was literally walking through the door and I just collapsed, I was in hysterics and was sick.
"My sister was in the house at the time and she thought someone had died, such was my reaction.
"I never would have wanted my children to see me like this."
Amanda spent the following day frantically between the bank, her solicitor's office and the police to try and find out what happened her money.
By the the end of the day she was advised that if the money was not found, she could forfeit the £30,000 deposit she had put on her house.
She was given until the end of the week to find the money to complete the sale.
"I just feel so helpless," added Amanda.
"Apparently all the bank need is a sort code and an account number, the name means nothing but they asked for it.
"There was one letter of difference.
"Had the bank clerk said, this is a Barclays account or its in England, it might have sparked some suspicion, but there was nothing.
"I'm just been blown away that there is no protection when you are carrying our transactions like this.
"The banking system, you'd have thought, would be much tougher.
"And no one wants to help, they just say it was you who carried out the transaction and you who are responsible."
Amanda added: "This just reminded me of when you had to sign up for Xtra Vision and all the information you had to provide just to get a video and yet you can transfer thousands with little security.
"It has been a horrendous week,
"I'm a single parent with two children and I work hard for my money.
The police are investigating and the Law Society has warned people to be aware of potential scams when they are carrying out transactions.
Barclays has said it complies with all regulations in terms of opening and managing accounts in respect of identifying and verifying customers and is investigating.
It said there was nothing to indicate the account Amanda sent her money to was being used inappropriately. The account has been closed, but the money has vanished.
"When we are made aware of inappropriate conduct on accounts," a Barclays spokesman said, "we will immediately investigate and take the necessary steps to close them.
"Where we have been successful in recovering funds we look to return these wherever possible.
"We recognise that some consumers’ interests have been damaged as a result of the conduct of some customers and that money has been lost.
"Regrettably, we are unable to provide any refund for individuals whose funds have been withdrawn from the account before we were made aware of the situation.
"We have an ongoing anti-fraud programme to protect our customers by working to stay one step ahead of the criminals. We work very hard to combat and detect fraud by working extremely closely with the appropriate authorities and the use of technology."
Amanda is living with her father while she waits to receive the keys to her new home. She has had to borrow from friends and family to prevent the loss of her deposit on the home.
However, she may have to immediately sell the house in order to repay those debts.
"I am so thankful for the people around me who had rallied to provide me with help they can ill afford themselves.
"I can see how people struggle in life without strong, loving support behind them - I don't know where I'd be without mine."
Belfast Telegraph Digital