Northumberland woman lost £11,000 to investment scam after falling for false advert which used images of Martin Lewis

Joy Foster lost £11,000 in an investment scam.Joy Foster lost £11,000 in an investment scam.
Joy Foster lost £11,000 in an investment scam.
A Stakeford woman planning her retirement lost £11,000 to an investment scam which used images of trusted financial expert Martin Lewis.

Joy Foster, 50, was looking to improve her finances so she’d have a nest egg to retire with.

Instead, she lost £11,733 - money she thought she’d never see again.

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Fed up with ISAs and saving accounts not showing much growth, and with plans for retirement in mind, Mrs Foster wanted to see more growth.

After spotting an advert for an investment opportunity on Facebook, fronted with images of founder Martin Lewis, she thought this was her golden ticket to early retirement from her job as a resource planner.

She said: “I get Martin’s newsletters every month, he’s someone I trust for money advice. My husband is older than me and already retired. I'm at the point where I’m looking to retire soon.

“So I went ahead and enquired. I got a phone call guiding me through the platform, showing me how easy it is to take my money out. I invested £250 and I saw returns on it quite quickly.

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“I then invested £2,000. It seemed legit because someone was always calling me every day. They were chatty, friendly and giving me advice and I could see the money growing.”

Mrs Foster researched the investment platform and read glowing TrustPilot reviews which gave her confidence to move forward with this venture.

She made four payments, increasing the amount every time. Her bank, Chase, questioned the legitimacy of the first couple of transactions, but as Mrs Foster thought it was safe, she confirmed it was.

It was a scam awareness campaign from Halifax bank which set alarm bells ringing.

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“The scam they were describing seemed exactly like what I was doing. I’d wanted to stop investing anyway, I didn’t want too much money in one place,” she said.

“But when I tried to take money out, they kept promising ‘it’ll be the end of the week’. And then they were asking for withdrawal fees.

“I then had a recovery company calling me saying they could get my money back but I’m sure it was the same scammers.”

Mrs Foster went back to the TrustPilot page and found a reviewer who had left their mobile number as they had also been scammed.

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Through this contact, she was welcomed into a WhatsApp group of fellow victims. One member of the group mentioned they had recovered their money through CEL Solicitors.

Mrs Foster said: “It actually only took CEL Solicitors about two months to get my money back. It was amazing news. I thought that it was lost forever, my bank had said they couldn’t help when I first went to them.”

She added: “I felt stupid. I couldn’t believe I’d been caught out by a scam, I thought I was ahead of that, I’m quite level-headed.

“Now I just don’t trust anything. I don’t even have an ISA anymore, my money is in one bank account and I know it’s not growing but I’m just happy with the 4% interest now.”

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Paul Hampson, CEO of CEL Solicitors said: “Mrs Foster was scammed in 2022 when she thought she was making smart investments for her financial wellbeing.

“Scammers go to great lengths to con people, and no one should feel stupid for falling for it.

“We’re delighted that in this instance, we were able to recover Mrs Foster’s losses and she can continue planning towards that early retirement.”

The Money Saving Expert website warns: “Whether it's Martin's pic on PPI claims firm or boiler incentive ads, scam binary trading ads, energy door-knockers using our name, or Bitcoin pop-ups with an image of Martin encouraging you to invest, they are all an attempt to leech off the hard-earned trust people have in us.

“Don't touch the ads.”