Page last updated at 04:19 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 05:19 UK

Chronic scam victim lost 50,000

By Marilyn Baldwin
Daughter of chronic scam victim Jessica Looke

Jessica Looke
Jessica lost 50,000 to mass-marketed mailings

My mother Jessica died in October 2007 aged 83. For the last five years of her life she had been hounded by fraudsters from all over the world.

It all started when my mother replied to a very convincing letter telling her she had won a large amount of money and that she needed to send an administration fee to receive her prize.

Although her cheque never arrived that letter was quickly followed by dozens more, all were saying that there was money waiting to be dispatched, and all giving reasons why she had to send off more money.

As soon as I realised what she was doing I tried to stop her, but it was useless.

Relationship

The scammers started to build up a relationship with her and the hold they had over her was so strong.

It didn't take long before she started to send away all of her pension except for about 15 a week she would keep to live off

The letters ranged from looking really official to being very personal and friendly but they all had one thing in common, that they all gave a reason as to why her winnings were delayed.

Either the money was in a so-called holding company or some other fictitious place that needed her cash to release it.

My mother became more and more hooked as the amount of mail increased. Some days she would receive around 30 letters a day.

It didn't take long before she started to send away all of her pension except for about 15 a week she would keep to live off.

The more I tried to persuade her that she was on a suckers list, the more we argued.

There was no way I could reason with her and although my mother and I were very close, these scammers started to tear us apart.

I couldn't get her mail redirected without her consent and although I tried through every channel I could think of, nobody could help.

Prediction

As she continued to respond so called clairvoyants started to jump on the bandwagon, of course they also wanted money.

Jessica Looke and Marilyn Baldwin
The situation strained the relationship between mother and daughter

The clairvoyants all knew she had "won" large amounts of money and they also knew she was "surrounded by bad luck" so they promised to remove this negative energy for a fee, and so it went on.

There would be times she would sit up until about 3am struggling to read through the piles of what she started to call documents.

All this started to have an effect on both her physical and mental health. At times she would telephone me in the early hours saying she had been threatened by firebombs from these evil beings if she didn't pay up.

I have recorded some of these phone calls. I realised that she was also being plagued by phone calls and changed her phone number, but they soon found it again. My mother must have put it on another bogus claim form.

Many times my mother would tell me she had stopped sending off her money.

But now have seen her bank books and spoken to the staff at the building society, I realised she had been doing it continually for five years.

Tragic

Eventually at the beginning of August 2007 the scam mail took its toll and my mother was admitted to hospital.

Many of the letters swore her to secrecy or told her to read away from prying eyes

It was at this time that I took her building society pass book and forged her signature to get her mail redirected.

But it was too late, I knew she didn't have long to live so I decided to go along with her to stop the arguing.

It broke my heart but I even took her out in the wheelchair looking for things she could buy with her "winnings".

My mother only came home for a short while and died on 24 October. She still spoke about sharing the money between the family days before she died.

When clearing her house I removed about 30,000 letters all tightly knotted in carrier bags. They were pushed in drawers and cupboards and her shed was full of them.

Many of the letters swore her to secrecy or told her to read away from prying eyes. Some asked for passport photos saying they were for a winners magazine.

Others asked for personal information about the victim and family members in a quest to discover passwords or steal her identity.

Some were threatening. It sickens me to think how my lovely mother was hounded and robbed of the last five years of her life.

Its easy for people to say "just throw this kind of mail in the bin" but because of her age my mother's mind was not as sharp as others, and receiving this kind of mail started her to deteriorate mentally.

Although I could see this happening, without her cooperation I couldn't get medical help.

The last five years of my mother's life were a nightmare not only for her but for me as well.

That is why we need to raise awareness of this evil crime and stop this happening to the elderly and vulnerable people of our society.


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