A devastated couple who were on the verge of buying their dream first home together were left shattered after being scammed out of their £10,700 deposit.
Robyn Stevenson and Scott Birkin thought they were close to clinching the deal for the £107,000 three-bedroom house in Stanley when they were sent an email, thought to be from their mortgage advisor, asking them to transfer the cash.
In reality, the email had been hacked. Robyn, 25, said: “I had no idea about this phishing scam. Someone was watching our conversation with emails going back and forth. There was nothing suspicious about it at all, it all looked authentic and I would never have thought any different. They joined in and said we needed to put the money in an account.”
It wasn’t until a week later that the couple, who work at the Toby Carvery in Rothwell, received an email a week later from the mortgage advisor to say they had been hacked.
Robyn added: “I passed out and Scott couldn’t even talk. I didn’t sleep for three days and all I did was cry. It was devastating, we’d even swapped contracts for the house.”
The couple have since recovered £3,000 of the cash thanks to the police, but are uncertain if the rest can be found.
Since then, friends and family have rallied and even set up a JustGiving page to help them claw back more of the cash.
Robyn said: “I didn’t even know they had done it, it’s such a lovely thing to do.
“I’m aware of scams but I never thought anything of this.
“If any one ever asks you to put money in an account, make sure you ring them first. I wish it’s what we’d done.”
Anyone who thinks they have fallen victim to an online scam is being asked to call Action Fraud’s main cyber crime centre on 0300 123 2040.