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As part of Debt Awareness Week, we caught up with Harry, a former PayPlan client. Harry finished his Debt Management Plan (DMP) with us last year and wanted to share his experience with others to encourage them to reach out for support.

Why did you get in touch with PayPlan?

“From the day I had a bank account at age 16, until the age 43, I had an impeccable credit rating and hadn’t had any problems with debt – but then I was a victim of fraud.

“I was duped by criminals in America into sending money. It was done in such a clever way, and I was in a very bad position in my life. I was going through a divorce, I was struggling to have access to one of my children, I was living in bad conditions and these people prayed on me at exactly the right time.

“I was fantasising about a better life for myself and my children, and they realised just how vulnerable I was.

“I made some rash decisions. I do suffer from ADHD, so I do act on impulse sometimes, and I am a risk taker. I took the gamble, knowing it was wrong, but I didn’t care because I was so focused on the future and not the present – and I ended up making mistakes that changed my life.

How did you become a victim of fraud?

“When I was married, I wasn’t on any social media platforms. But after I separated, I was on Instagram and my account wasn’t private. I was approached by these people, and I was naive to it – I hadn’t been on social media platforms before.

“These people wake up in the morning and go to work like everybody else, but their work is destroying lives. I had phone calls, video calls, and emails with them and I had bank accounts with money in them, including a Canadian bank account with $55,000 in it. How they operated was very clever, and I was a victim of my own circumstances.

“I’ve learnt since it happened to me just how widespread it is. Fraud worldwide is catastrophic; it is like an epidemic. This didn’t happen overnight, they groomed me for six months before I sent any money.

“I was able to obtain three bank loans from three separate UK banks. In a way, the banks could have been more helpful, but I didn’t have bad credit history and I had taken out bank loans before, but now because of my mistake, I have a bad credit history and I can’t get a mortgage.

How did the scam affect you?

“It massively damaged my mental health and I’ve had counselling and therapy. I found myself punching myself in the face. It sounds crazy. I had just lost £50,000, had been through a divorce and had split it up with my girlfriend – everything just compounded.

How did PayPlan support you?

“I first contacted PayPlan back in 2018 and they helped me get my Debt Management Plan set up, where I was paying off my debts each month. Following my divorce though, I received a lump sum, so I got back in touch as I wanted to see what my options were regarding settlements.

I spoke with Janet (from PayPlan) who checked and confirmed that the creditors were willing to take a percentage of the money to clear my debts, and my world was lifted.

“When I spoke to PayPlan it was marvellous – you are almost counsellors on top of what you do. You are kind people, and you could see that my situation was different. I wasn’t bad with money; I was a victim and I had been tricked.

“I have always had the feeling that everyone cares at PayPlan – it wasn’t just a debt management plan. You guys genuinely care for your clients which is a nice feeling.”