Your consumer champion

My husband died at 48 and then I was conned out of £50,000

– DB, via email



Daily Telegraph


QI’m writing on behalf of my friend, whose husband died very recently at the age of 48 after a courageous two- year cancer battle. They have two young children and, as you can imagine, the family has been devastated both emotionally and financially by his death. A couple of weeks ago my friend, who is still on bereavement leave from her job, fell victim to a scam. She received an email purporting to be from PayPal saying £889 was going to be taken from her account. She didn’t recognise the transaction and suspected it might be a phishing email. But when she logged into PayPal, sure enough, she saw the pending £ 889 transaction there. She then spoke to someone on the phone she believed to be from PayPal, who told her that fraudsters were trying to access her accounts. She felt terrified and was advised to move money to a “secure” account. It was only once she had followed the instructions to do this that she realised she had been scammed to the tune of around £50,000. My friend reported the scam to both Santander and Paypal, but neither says it is liable. AWith your friend concentrating on getting through her first Christmas as a single mother, you stepped in and asked me to talk to PayPal to see what could be done. You were hazy about what had occurred, but I was quickly able to establish that your friend had indeed fallen for a highly convincing scam. When your friend logged into PayPal she saw a request for £ 889, which appeared to correspond to the email she received. However, I can confirm that the fraudster was behind both. In the notes section below the request, users can write a short message, which the fraudsters used to send your friend an official-sounding warning that the request was suspected to be a scam, with a phone number to call. Your friend did so, thinking she was speaking to PayPal, and was then tricked into emptying her Santander bank account. Already in the most precarious situation of her life following the death of her husband, realising she had been conned like this must have been devastating. You have been a real rock to her throughout this period and I’m so glad you wrote to me to ask for help. Following my involvement, Santander has returned the entire £50,000 sum lost, plus £100 to say sorry. The return of this money means the difference between sinking into financial difficulty and rebuilding her life from a stable financial base. A Santander spokesman said: “We were sorry to hear of the customer’s loss and wish her strength at this difficult time. We have taken the decision to refund her the money fraudulently taken, as a result of her individual circumstances, as well as providing her with £100 as a gesture of goodwill.” A PayPal spokesman said: “We have a zero- tolerance policy on our platform for attempted fraudulent activity and our teams work tirelessly to protect our customers. We are aware of this phishing scam and encourage customers to always be vigilant online.” Q My wife and I were looking to book something special to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and we came across a fun-looking theatre show called & Juliet, which is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. The theatre’s website said it was suitable for ages six and up, and my wife phoned the theatre to double check whether it would be suitable for our girls, aged eight and 11. She was given reassurances, so we booked four seats. A few minutes in, it became clear the show was not what we were expecting. There were some very adult themes explored, as well as colourful language that we didn’t feel comfortable about our young girls being exposed to. After around 45 minutes we left the venue, with our daughters in floods of tears. We feel it has left a lasting impression on them. The last thing my elder daughter said to me when she went to bed that night was that she couldn’t get some of the things she saw and heard out of her head and wished she hadn’t witnessed them. I feel the producers of this show have no right to expose young children to this without their parents’ knowledge or consent. I have been in touch with the theatre and the producers, who do not accept they have a duty of care to their customers or have misrepresented the sale of tickets to minors. I feel very strongly that the producers and theatre should be held to account so that no other families are put in this position. – KM, via email A The official page for & Juliet on the Shaftesbury Theatre’s website describes the show as a “sensational journey of self- discovery”. The age range is described as “six-plus” and there are no specific warnings about adult themes, strong language or any other issues that might cause concern. But as an extra measure to check that the production was age appropriate, you say your wife phoned the theatre to ask. Following this call you booked the tickets. However, neither of you researched the production online beforehand. Had you done so, you would have discovered that the storyline was heavily centred around sexuality issues, with transgender themes as a prominent thread. You say you were shocked when the script contained references to sex and virginity, depictions of onenight stands and jokes about a man “riding his wife”. You say you also didn’t appreciate having to explain the phrase “man whore” to your 11-yearold when you got home. While you say you’re no prude, and would have no qualms about taking older children to see the show, you felt this content was far too mature for primary school age children. The other thing that made you uncomfortable was foul language. You say f--- was used once or twice, among other rude words you didn’t want your girls to hear. I haven’t seen the show but a couple of other reviews I came across online also complained about the use of the words f--- and s--- in relation to the age limit of six, raising questions over the show’s suitability. You complained to the Shaftesbury Theatre, which passed your concerns on to Greene Light Stage, the production company. It replied to you saying that while the company “respects your opinion as to what is suitable for your children”, it presented as much information as possible about the production to enable people to make the best decisions for themselves. However, as no warnings about adult content or strong language appear on the show’s official Shaftesbury Theatre page, I find it hard to agree that it couldn’t have done more. Greene Light Stage suggested it was up to you to have done more research about the show in advance. This really got your back up, causing you to write to me. When I approached a representative of Greene Light Stage to ask how the show’s age limit had been set, they refused to say. They also refused to confirm which swear words featured in its script, whether other parents had complained about adult themes and if the age limit had recently been reduced from 12, as one online article seemed to say was the case. You came to me because you felt this company was being unreasonable in not accepting that it had ruined your daughter’s birthday by misselling you this show. Greene Light Stage told you it respected your opinion, but its handling of your case leads me to question this. If so, it needs to wake up. The bottom line is that productions that contain adult content and swearing ought to come with a warning to alert parents and this one did not.