Gran lost £10,000 to Instagram crypto scammer who posed as a famous actor

A Cornwall woman has been left devastated after being targeted in a crypto scam (Picture: SWNS/Rex)

A woman sold her engagement ring to fund an Instagram scam that involved the thief posing as Outlander actor Sam Heughan.

Superfan Mary Ryland, 72, has been left devastated after losing £10,000 to the social media cryptocurrency scammer.

And she hasn’t been able to recover any of the money she lost in the scam.

Posing as the Outlander actor, the crook sent Mary a message on Instagram in January 2023 and the pair quickly started messaging back and forth.

The scammer even went as far as sending Mary a fake passport to convince her he was the real Sam Heughan.

After months of messaging, Mary, who is originally from Preston in Lancashire, but now lives in Cornwall, was convinced to deposit money into a cryptocurrency account.

The fraudster sent Mary fake graphs showing her that her investment was growing so that she would deposit more money.

And the scammers convinced her that £5,000 on top of the money she had already invested had to be sent in order to be able to ‘withdraw the money’.

The scammers messaged Mary for months before getting her to part with her money (Picture: Mary Ryland / SWNS)

Mary eventually realised she had been the victim of a scam when she read about another woman who had faced a similar experience.

Speaking about what happened, Mary said: ‘It fooled me terribly. It was horrible.

‘I really thought it was Sam. The scammer even sent me a passport with a name, and date and it really fooled me.

‘I think I’m a bit of a sucker for a sob story and celebrity impersonators.

‘I don’t want it to happen to others – it must be stopped.

‘Instagram should know that a lot of people who post on those sites are scammers.

‘Before you realise they’ve sucked you in quite badly.’

The scammers posed as actor Sam Heughan, who Mary loves (Picture: Starz!/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Mary said she started using Instagram initially just to ‘talk to people’ as she lives with her disabled husband who she said ‘doesn’t talk much’.

She would sometimes post comments on an Outlander fan page, which is where she believes the scammer found her.

As she spoke to the scammer online over the next few months, she shared several details about her life, including the fact she would like a new car and home.

Then in March last year, Mary was encouraged by the crook to start investing in cryptocurrency.

As she was fooled into thinking her initial investment was growing because of the fake graphs, she ended up investing a total of £5,000 over the next two months.

Mary said she hopes by sharing her story, that the scam won’t impact anyone else (Picture: SWNS/Rex)

The scammers then convinced her to send another £5,000 to ‘activate’ the wallet as she was fooled into believing sending the money would allow her to withdraw the funds.

She said: ‘The actual chap who was pretending to be Sam was encouraging me over quite a long time.

‘He had tried to turn it into a romantic thing at the beginning.

‘I mentioned I’d like a car, a proper house and then he said I should start investing money and this is where bitcoin came in.’

When the scammer knew Mary was on board with investing, they instructed her to contact someone else on WhatsApp.

Mary said: ‘I always had to notify this person before I would invest and he would walk me through the whole system.

‘I couldn’t put anything lower than £1,000 in and that was tricky as we’re both pensioners.

‘But over time they started dropping the threshold down when they wanted more and more money to encourage me to keep putting in money.

‘Wherever I was investing it was going straight to the scammers.

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‘It looked as if the money was growing and they would encourage me to keep investing.’

When Mary realised what was happening she stopped all communication with the scammers.

Her bank hasn’t been able to help her recover any of the money but, as she was investing in sound mind, she’s hoping she will have more luck with the Financial Ombudsman.

Mary continued: ‘What I really want to get across to women is to just be careful – they are so sophisticated now these scammers.

‘If I can help somebody not go through what I’ve been through then I’ve done my job.’

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