An elderly woman suffering from skin cancer was scammed out of £300,000 after she was told she had won the Australian lottery, her devastated son has revealed.

Barbara, who was born in England but moved to Scotland, was told to hand over four lots of £25,000 in cash to two men in order to ‘release’ her lottery prize money.

Her son Steve, a former ex-yacht builder, says his 74-year-old mother, who died just two months ago, never got her money back and was forced to sell her bungalow to repay a £100,000 loan from the bank.

He said: ‘For the last 10 years of her life she was just devastated by this and constantly stressed as she battled cancer. 

‘That money would have made a real difference in her life and our lives.’

Steve says the scam his mother fell for was similar to one in which a Nigerian conman – nicknamed ‘Fizzy’ for his love of vintage champagne – cheated vulnerable pensioners out of £5million in life savings.

Barbara passed away two months ago at the age of 74 after she was scammed out of nearly £300,000 when she was told she had won the Australian lottery

While Barbara battled cancer, her son said: ‘All of this stress was just awful for her’

Asked how she was duped, Steve said: ‘It was around 2009 or 2010, right after our dad died, and I was working in Holland but me and my brother kept our eyes on her as best as we could. I used to ring her every day.

‘When I’d ring she would say – don’t worry boys, things are on the up. Things are going to change. I’d say what on earth are you going on about?

‘A few months went by and I rang her and she said the police were monitoring our calls so I needed to be careful. I then realised that something was wrong so I flew back from Holland and that’s when she said I’ve been scammed out of a lot of money.’

Steve questioned why a bank manager ‘would give an old woman £100,000 in cash’ without asking any questions.

He also added: ‘My mum and dad worked very hard all their lives and everything was bought for, including the house, after they built up a good pension.

‘But after taking the loan from the bank to pay the hundred grand she then had to sell the house when the market was at rock bottom. On top of the £100,000 she lost, she lost another £200,000 by selling the house when she did because today it would have been worth at least £350,000.’

Steve said the two men who collected the money were arrested after the final pickup when Barbara phoned the police.

He also said throughout this whole process she kept everything secret and ‘close to her chest’ which meant he and his brother weren’t able to find out any information.

Steve also said his mother’s ear was taken off by doctors to remove the cancer 

Asked what the impact was on his late mother, he stated: ‘After the scam she had cancer about six times and they kept cutting it out of her. She had it on the side of her head, they had to cut her ears off and peel her skin back then sew it all back on.

‘All of this stress was just awful for her. Then a couple of months ago she had a tumour on her lung and the hospital took a sample of it and it collapsed her lung. Three weeks later she was dead.’

Steve, who suffers from chronic lyme disease and COPD, told how his brother has had two heart attacks and the money which would have been left behind by his mother had she not been scammed ‘would have made a real difference in our lives’.

Asked what he would say to the people who scammed his mother, he replied: ‘I just hope somebody doesn’t do it to their family. It ruins people’s lives and has torn apart our family.

‘When I see this Fizzy champagne scammer with all of his watches and cars it makes me feel sick.’

He added: ‘Mum was a very loving woman and all her life she opened her heart and house for emergency placing for children from drug and drink abuse families.

‘She absolutely loved doing it and on one occasion took in a baby until she could be fosterd because her mother was a heroin addict.

‘She was also a very strong woman who did not take any cr*p, so for this to happen to her is so wrong.’


– Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels.

– Every year scams cost Australians millions of dollars, causing considerable harm to Australian consumer.

– Currently, scammers are benefiting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the more common scams include:

– Vaccination scams: requesting payment for vaccines or early access to vaccines

– Government impersonation scams: texts and emails containing malicious link pretending to be government agencies spreading information about Covid-19

– Bank and insurance scams: texts and emails pretending to be from banks and insurance companies with malicious link or seeking payment

Tips to protect yourself from these scams:

– Don’t click on hyperlinks in texts/social media messages or emails

– Never respond to calls and messages asking for financial details – delete them or hang up

– Never provide a stranger remote access to your device – even if they claim to be from a reputable company

– To verify a contact, find them through an independent source – such as an online source or past bill

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