Grandfather left traumatised by fake taxmen phone scam which 'triggered his dementia'
PUBLISHED: 11:56 25 March 2019
An elderly man who was bombarded with phone calls from fake taxmen had to be put in a care home for his own safety, after the ordeal left him frightened for his life.
Peter Kelly, 86, formerly of Sherbourne Place, Norwich, was being terrorised at his home by ruthless swindlers who had left threatening voicemails stating the grandfather owed thousands of pounds to HMRC.
The phone calls began in May 2018 and Mr Kelly’s condition deteriorated rapidly, as he tried in vain to explain to his family that taxmen were coming after him.
His daughter, Moira Swatman, of Dussindale, Thorpe St Andrew, said that, although her father suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, he had been a strong-willed man who lived independently.
“His medication can cause strange dreams, which I thought this was,” she said. “He started to seem quite mildly confused.
“Then he went totally irrational, he said he owed all this money and that people were watching his flat.”
His mental state continued to deteriorate until one morning Mrs Swatman found him with a hammer in his hand.
She added: “He had been up all night, he said ‘they are going to arrest me, I don’t know what I’ve done wrong’.
“He said he was going to be executed at midnight.”
Mrs Swatman said her father had lost mental capacity within three days and was hospitalised for eight weeks.
“The doctors said he had accelerated dementia triggered by trauma,” Mrs Swatman said. “I couldn’t get my head round how he got like this.”
Doctors told Mrs Swatman that her father was no longer safe living alone and so he was placed in a nursing home.
Months later, Mrs Swatman visited his flat in October and listened to around half a dozen messages left on his answer machine.
It was at this point she realised conmen were hounding her father with messages demanding £20,000.
“They were using the same words my father had used - that there was a warrant for his arrest which will be executed at midnight,” Mrs Swatman said.
“I can’t imagine how frightened he must have been, no-one believed him.”
Mrs Swatman notified Norfolk Constabulary, but as no money was stolen the police were not able to take further action.
A Norfolk police spokesman said these types of offences could be investigated by Action Fraud, which Mrs Swatman has since contacted.
“Families need to be more aware of elderly relatives and look after them,” she said. “Just because he didn’t lose any money he lost a lot more - he lost his independence.”