Gloria Hunniford, presenter of Rip Off Britain, was defrauded of £120,000 by a woman who posed as her.
The 76-year-old BBC broadcaster’s bank account was emptied of the amount days after the impostor went to a Santander branch with two people whom she claimed were her daughter and grandson in June of last year, the Old Bailey heard.
Aysha Davis, a personal banker, said the woman came into the Croydon North End branch in south London and informed her she had “a few bob” in the bank and had come to add her teenage grandson as a signatory to her account because she had been unwell. Davis was accused of being part of the scam but was found innocent.
Police are still searching for the lookalike and her supposed daughter but Alan Dowie, 18, from Oxted in Surrey, who posed as Hunniford’s grandson, has been given a suspended sentence.
Reyon Dillon, also 18, who laundered some of the cash from the fraud, is due to be sentenced next month.
Giving evidence in court, Davis explained she had to google Hunniford to find out who she was and had never met Dowie before he came into the bank.
“The name on the ID card was Mary Winifred Gloria Hunniford, and sorry to be stereotypical but this lady looked like a Mary,” she told jurors according to a report in The Telegraph.
“I had to google Gloria Hunniford and even if I passed her on the street I wouldn't recognise her because she's not from my time.”
Prosecutor Sheilagh Davies replied: “But she’s pretty famous.” Jurors then giggled after the defendant replied: “In your opinion.”
Hunniford was reimbursed by the bank for the full sum after it emerged the scam took place.
A Santander spokesperson said: “Santander takes fraud extremely seriously. As soon as we identified this fraudulent activity we alerted the authorities as well as Ms Hunniford herself.
“We are very sympathetic to the distress caused to Ms Hunniford for being the victim of a scam and as is our normal practice in a case like this, we have reimbursed her fully for her financial loss.
“We have also made significant improvements to our processes to ensure this type of fraudulent activity is prevented in future.”
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