(copied from my mobile phone)

447873587992. Hey mum, my phone has water damage that’s why I have this temporary number.  Save my number when you see this with a reply.

Me:  So sorry.  It is so important to you. Take care my lovely.  Have been thinking of you most of the day. 

447873587992. My phone fell down the toilet, and now it won’t turn on now.  All of my pictures and contacts are on there, I’m scared I might lose them.  Such a pain

Me. That’s terrible. 

447873587992. I’ve been having a nightmare recently with another issue as well

Me. Oh sweetheart, I wish I could take it away for you.  Are you on your way home?

447873587992. My phones really messed up and my online banking has been frozen because of the number change, it’s the banks security policy or something and It’s just frustrating because I have an invoice for £1499.45 to pay and if I don’t pay it today there will be additional charges added, I can’t pay it now because I can’t access my online banking

Me. If M cannot pay it, let me pay it for you.  Just give me the numbers and what it is for.  Love, Mom

447873587992. Yes, could you pay it for me please? I will return it once I can use my online banking.  It should be the day after tomorrow.  I will forward you the details.  Is that okayxx

Me.  Yes, that’s fine.

447873587992. The invoice company are asking what bank the payment is being sent from as you’re paying on my behalf.  Some banks tend to take longer than othersX

Me[I give my bank’s name only. Just tell me what it’s for.  Shall I put your name in the reference blank?

447873587992. Thank you so much.  It’s for a buy now pay later order I had.  Payment: Personal Account, Payee name: Joshua Norton.  Sort code 20-55-59.  Account number 20788600. Just enter reference G83.  Amount: £1499.45  

Me:.  I’m at my computer now, sending this through to my bank.

447873587992. I have checked the details they are all correct, let me know once done please.  Thank you so much.

Me: Okay.  That’s done. 

447873587992. If you continue it will go through fine

447873587992. Did it go through

Me: not yet.  Are you sure this isn’t a scam?

447873587992. Yes I am 100% confident this is not a scam

447873587992 I have paid here before multiple times beforex

447873587992 Is it through yet?

Me:  The bank is just checking. 

447873587992. Why?

Me:  Just security.

447873587992. I’m so worried.  They will close soon and I still won’t have paid.

Then I had numerous conversations with the bank: the details of setting up a new account.  The gentle questioning.  The quiet voice saying, “I need to get affirmation from my manager.  Could you hold on please?”  And then a calm gentle voice from the [obvious] fraud department, asking “how have you been contacted?  By text?  Have you actually talked to your daughter?  No?  Well, we will hold off the payment until after you phone her on that new number and talk to her.  I can guarantee it won’t go through.”

So I did and it didn’t.  I phoned her real number.  She was actually two doors away, fine, working from home. 

What followed, of course, was my deep deep shame, the wish to cover it up, hide my stupidity, the ransacking of the brain, how could I have been so duped?  As I scanned through the texts, I picked up MULTIPLE reasons why I should have been suspicious: she never calls me “Mum”; she’s so budget-conscious she’d never buy anything on time until she had scheduled the payments; she’d never let her phone go down a toilet.  She’d never ask for a loan over the phone.  In fact, she’d never ask for a loan.  Besides, how ever could I miss such appalling punctuation mistakes?  This wasn’t like my daughter at all.  How was I so dumb to be so thoroughly taken in??? 

When I see it written out like this, it is so obviously a scam, once more I am filled with shame. 

But, in trying to embrace the horrid experience now, rather than deny its existence, what could I learn? Why did I blindly believe?  Why didn’t I think to check via telephone call?  Why was I so consumed with getting a (purported) loved one out of intense trouble that I missed the obvious?  Why did my heart ache for “her”?  Why do I, and so many others pour out generosity of time and finances to make the life of their own as smooth as possible?

Above all, not WHY, but HOW did it happen?

Urgency was key.  Constant goading and goading.  The need for speed.  The copied texts above were in reality a lot fuller than these, always pushing “is it through yet?”  or “why is the bank taking so long?” I could feel “her” rising worry.   The pressure was increasing at every message, so that there was no time to step back and reason, to allow the brain’s logic to filter through my heart’s spontaneous replies.    

But more soul-shredding was the attack on the most vulnerable part of a relationship – love.  Our love had surrounded and protected our children from the moment I knew I was pregnant.  I would do anything to ensure that they were all right.  I thought that this intimate bond was sacrosanct – respected and honoured from human being to human being.  The NO GO area.  But I was wrong. 

I owe deep gratitude to my bank, thanking them for protecting the money that was for my husband’s nursing home care.  Also, silent apologies to them for the frequent times in the past that I had wearied of their additional security restrictions.  I am certainly glad the anti-fraud officer took over what my heart couldn’t release. 

Zucchini Relish

I’ve been waiting since last October to share this recipe with you.  It comes from my beloved sister Anne, who has dementia. I want to honour her for all the recipes she has given me in the past.  Measurements by a standard sized cup and the usual measuring spoons. 

Ingredients: zucchini, courgettes, or marrow, onions, green and red peppers, salt, sugar, vinegar, turmeric, celery seed, mustard seeds, black pepper.

Grind 10 cups of zucchini.  Grind 4 cups of onion.  Grind 2 green peppers, and 2 red peppers (both seeded). Mix well. Add 5 tablespoons of salt. Cover with water. Leave overnight. Drain.

Over very low heat, bring the following to simmering point, uncovered: 4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon dry mustard (mustard powder), 2 ½ tablespoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch), 1 tablespoon powdered turmeric, 2 teaspoons celery seed, 2 teaspoon mustard seed, ½ teaspoon black pepper. Ensure that the sugar is dissolved. 

Add drained veg.  Simmer about 5 – 10 minutes.  Store in sterilized jars, in a dark cool place away from frost, to allow the flavours to hold hands. 

HALF a recipe produced this much relish.
Relish before (left) and after (right) maturing. The taste matures, too.

Best in six weeks if you can wait that long. Hmmmm. Next time I may grind in a couple of fresh chillies.

Good with mayonnaise, and whizzed into salad dressings, burgers and grilled things, and slipped under the cheese with a bit of wholegrain mustard for your cheesey toasts!


  1. Dear Judy Ouch! I had a very similar experience and it’s left a scar. Thank you so much for unpicking my emotional responses. Clever girl! Lots of love – so looking forward to seeing you on 19th. Mary


  2. So very relieved that there wasn’t an unhappy ending to the dreadful experience you had, not in a material way anyway. I have read online so many warnings of identical scams, but naively assumed that everyone I know would have picked up on the similarity if sent urgent requests for funds by text message from loved ones. Evidently, more needs to be done to spread the message. And these horrible lowlife prey on the vulnerable, the not so computer-savvy, and, as you say, those who simply love their family members and would do anything to put right any sticky situation in which they have found themselves. My heart goes out to you, Judy.


    1. Thanks, Geri. I think I was more hurt than angry that someone would try something like that. Then I, too, read so many similar instances that made me aware that I wasn’t the only one. I keep thinking of the scammers; how have they been so hurt, so greedy for others’ money, that they come to do this? Love


  3. I too have felt that shame of being duped 😔. I felt such a fool – I’m an intelligent woman and yet it took a lovely man at my credit card company to explain how I’d been taken in 😢. So glad your bank stepped in just in time…..I don’t know how these scammers live with themselves!


  4. Phew! How lucky your bank picked it up! But don’t feel bad – these people are professional manipulators who know exactly what buttons to press; and the tactics change all the time, so as soon as everyone’s heard about this one, they’ll already be starting on another one.
    I nearly fell for one a couple of years ago, when I got an email telling me an unfamiliar device had logged on to my Amazon account; I didn’t think twice about clicking the link and logging into ‘my account’ – until after I’d done it. Luckily I was able to log in immediately via my usual bookmark and change the email address and password before anything happened but it was a very narrow squeak.
    It’s horrible to feel that criminals are all around us waiting to pounce 😦


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