https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-n ... 0-17471212
'The impact has been devastating financially and mentally'
A sick grandmother claims she was fleeced by heartless thieves who stole £2,300 of vouchers she'd invested in a festive savings scheme - by posing as her.
Gillian Whalley, 56, has been banking cash with Park Christmas Savings all year for herself, her two friends and her sister.
She says she forgot to update her details on her Park account and subsequently £2,300 worth of vouchers were sent to one of her previous addresses.
Gillain claims a new occupant of an address signed for the vouchers, apparently forging her name before going on a spending spree.
Parks told Gillian where and when her vouchers had been spent, and she said she visited the shops and saw CCTV of the new occupant and a friend spending the vouchers.
Support worker Gillian said she can't claim back the voucher from Park on their business insurance because it was her responsibility to update her address.
'It's just devastating'
She felt so guilty she reimbursed her two friends from her own pocket - and now has barely any cash left to buy her family presents.
Gillian from Bolton, Greater Manchester, said: "A person stole the vouchers and has gone wild, splurging hundreds of my pounds on the high street in New Look, Primark and Wilko.
"The impact has been devastating financially and mentally, and as I suffer from multiple sclerosis, the stress of the situation has impacted my health as well.
"I've got seven grandchildren and now I cannot buy the presents I wanted to for the family.
"I'm just getting for the grandkids but have to limit what I can spend on them now.
"My family has been very supportive and are chipping in with food but it's just devastating, this isn't how I imagined our Christmas to be."
She worked as an agent for Park for years, and this year invested £400 from her, £1,000 from a friend, £500 from another, and £250 from her sister.
She had been expecting her vouchers to arrive in November 2019.
But when she hadn't received them a week after her order was dispatched, Gillian checked online and realised she hadn't updated her address.
She had paid Royal Mail to redirect her post, she claims, but to her dismay, the vouchers had been signed for and collected.
Gillian said: "Even though they'd got my name and my date of birth wrong, Park still let them have the vouchers and by the time I found out, they'd spent all the money.
"I have complained to Royal Mail who just refunded me the redirection money of £37 - I feel very insulted.
"They said Park could claim on business insurance but Park have said they won’t because the delivery went to the right address on my account."
The new occupant of Gillian's old address activated the vouchers - getting the date of birth and spelling Gillian's name wrong, she claims.
Park sent her a list of places her gift cards have been used.
"I visited the shops that I'd seen the money had been spent in and explained what had happened, asking to see their CCTV for proof," she said.
"There in black and white was the culprit, counting out my vouchers at the till before handing them to the cashier to pay for baskets of clothes.
"I felt so angry and immediately reported them to the police, who said they'd investigate and check the CCTV footage themselves.
"Police are taking forever to look into it, and all the while these thieves are looking forward to a great Christmas all at my expense.
"They'd spent vouchers belonging to my two friends and sister as they'd given me money to put into Park, and I've paid them back out of my own pocket because I feel so guilty.
"I was going to use the money to pay for Christmas as I'm hosting nine members of my family as well as some of my partner Neil's family.
"I'm now £2,300 down because of their crime and struggling to collect enough money to treat my family even a tiny bit this year, it's just awful.
"I would have had more respect if they had used the money to buy Christmas presents for their kids but they used it to go on a spending spree, buying themselves clothes and phones and shoes.
"My Christmas is ruined by those horrible people and I want everyone to know what horrible humans beings they are!"
What Park Christmas said
A Park Christmas Savings spokesperson said: “We’re so sorry to hear about some of the difficulties Ms Whalley has experienced recently, and we’re more than happy to work closely with Greater Manchester Police on any investigation to help track and identify anyone spending these vouchers.
"We really don’t want the Whalley family to miss out on an amazing Christmas this year, so we’ve reviewed this particular case again and have made the decision to replace Ms Whalley’s vouchers as a goodwill gesture.
"We’d like to wish the family a very joyful Christmas.”
Greater Manchester Police said: "We are currently investigating Gillian Whalley's case."