A COUPLE have spoken out over the horror of being scammed — and watching £20,000 of their savings disappear from their bank account.

The couple, who have asked to remain anonymous, said they felt violated after they were targeted by scammers and had to fight to get their money back.

"We were absolutely devastated. I wanted to not tell anybody because I felt so stupid," said the husband, who realised something was wrong after noticing transactions on his PayPal account that looked suspicious.

After contacting PayPal, they got their money back and closed their account — but that was just the beginning.

"It was probably a fishing expedition to get my information," the man said.

"I really didn't want it to happen again."

However, some time later, in May last year, the couple were targeted again. This time, the scam was more sophisticated.

They received a phone call, purportedly from BT's fraud investigation team investigating the PayPal incident.

The caller claimed they were close to tracking the culprits down and said they wanted to set up a sting operation to catch the scammers.

"At first I was a bit wary, but he spoke with a lot of authority and had access to my computer by a screen monitoring system," the man said.

The caller said he would transfer £20,000 into the couple's account and asked them to forward it to another account, which the 'fraud investigation' team would trace to catch the scammers.

"I could see the money coming into my account, and then the money going out, and he said it would take a couple of days for the transactions going through," he said.

"When I checked two days later, to my horror, my own money had gone."

The man checked with his bank, which went through the procedures he should have gone through when transferring such a large sum of money, including receiving a text confirming the transaction.

He said: "The bank insisted we were the ones at fault because we gave away information like our pin numbers, which we didn't do.

"They said they couldn't give us our money back so we went to the Financial Ombudsman for help.

After going to the ombudsman and seeking advice from the Isle of Wight Against Scams Partnership (IWASP), the couple got all of their money back — with eight per cent interest and £300 to compensate them for the distress they had suffered.

"What helped us, I think, was that we kept a detailed record from day one of what was going on, any emails we sent, and letters or calls received. So we were able to come back on all the points raised by the bank," he said.

The couple stressed it is important for victims to report scams, even if they did not want to.

She said: "I think it would have been very easy to get isolated but IWASP was very supportive and understanding.

"The bank was so impersonal and cold so to deal with, but the team at Trading Standards was lovely.

"They came out and visited us and it was a real warm human being that actually cared about us.

"It is good we got the money back, but the original money is somewhere funding criminal activity and that we find very hard to deal with."

Sally Ash, of Isle of Wight Trading Standards, said they were able to support the couple as they fought to get their money and her team was over the moon to see they had won.

"Scammers are very, very sophisticated and clever. These people are sophisticated and know what they are doing," said Sally.

"I am very grateful to our couple for speaking out."

Trading Standards is working with the Isle of Wight Council during September — IWASP Awareness Month — to make sure people have the advice and guidance needed when dealing with scams.