Acorn’s installation and service engineers often go the extra mile for their customers, but stopping someone being fleeced of their life savings by a conman is a new one even for us!
That’s exactly what happened recently with one of our service engineers, not here in the UK but within our German operation, Acorn Treppenlifte.
It started out as a routine job for 42-year-old Acorn engineer Patrick Maaßen, servicing a stairlift for an 84-year-old lady living in the city of Cologne. But during the job the lady took a phone call which set alarm bells ringing for Patrick.
“I heard that the caller pretended to be her grandson and that she did not recognise him at first,” Patrick later told a reporter from German newspaper ‘Bild’.
“But when the lady gave several names of her grandchildren, the caller responded to one of them. He then told her that he was in an emergency situation and urgently needed several thousand euros.”
Patrick expressed his concern to the lady, but she’d been taken in and insisted she had to go out to the bank. Convinced something was wrong, Patrick made a phone call of his own – to the police. Officers were quick to respond and were waiting when the lady returned from the bank, having withdrawn a very large sum of money.
Shortly afterwards, the conman called back, again pretending to be the lady’s grandson, but when he realised the police were involved he immediately hung up. When she understood she’d almost been fleeced of her life savings, the elderly and vulnerable lady was very grateful, both to Patrick and the police officers. Her money is now safely back where it belongs – in the bank.
For his part, Patrick was just happy he’d been able to help prevent a despicable crime. He told the newspaper reporter he wasn’t a hero, but had only done what anyone would have in his position. Needless to say, everyone at Acorn is very proud of Patrick!
Although this story had a happy outcome, it also serves as a warning to beware of scams, not just on the phone but also online, in the post and even by uninvited doorstep callers. The older generation tend to be more trusting, which unfortunately also makes them more vulnerable to potential scams.
If you receive a phone call or any other communication which makes you even slightly wary, you must always err on the side of caution. Never give out your financial details or agree to hand over cash, but instead speak to someone you trust and who might know more about scammers and their tactics.
If you have an elderly relative, friend or neighbour who you think might be vulnerable to scammers, you could take the opportunity to talk to them about the risk. Let them know they can turn to you for help and advice.
You should also report any scam, or attempted scam, as soon as possible by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. If you’re suspicious about an email you’ve received, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and suspicious text messages can be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge.