A RETIRED grandfather says he has been left 'devastated' after being conned out of £53,000 of life savings in a phone scam.

John Williams, 64, believes he was targeted by "professional fraudsters" who gained access to his computer to transfer both his and his wife's savings into another bank account.

Mr Williams, of New Bryngwyn Road, Newbridge, was planning to use the money to buy an apartment by the seaside to spend time with his wife, Carol, who has terminal cancer.

He is now facing the prospect of taking out a new mortgage as he says Santander will only be able to refund £1,000 of the money taken.

In the scam, which happened on Wednesday evening, Mr Williams said he was phoned on his landline and recognised the number to be Santander's.

The caller, claiming to be from the bank, said there had been a fraudulent £15,000 transaction and that he needed access to Mr Williams' laptop.

Believing the man to be genuine, Mr Williams allowed him remote access to three online bank accounts - his own, his wife's and a joint account.

Mr Williams said: "I saw the accounts and I said to him no money has come out.

"But he said the payments has been pre-authorised and if nothing is done the money will come out in the morning.

"He said he would have to take money out of these accounts to safeguard it."

A new bank account titled 'J Williams' was created by the scammer who then proceeded to transfer three payments, totalling £53,000, into the new account.

When Mr Williams became suspicious he rang Santander on his mobile phone and he was told they were not carrying out the transaction.

But the retired worker for British Telecom says a second fraudster then phoned him, also claiming to be from the bank, and saying that he should proceed.

"I was properly conned by professionals," said Mr Williams, who has one daughter and three grandchildren.

"When I saw the phone number I naturally assumed it was Santander.

"It was only when he was taking the funds out I thought 'this is not right,'

"The following day when I rang them (Santander) they said it's not us, you've been conned."

Mr Williams only had a large amount of money in the accounts because he had recently sold a property in Tenerife to pay for a new apartment by the seaside in Weston-super-Mare.

"Fifty-three thousand pounds is a lot of money," he said.

"I have not slept much."

He is hoping to get compensation, but he says Santander said they cannot refund the money because he gave one time passwords to allow access to his account.

Only £1,000, found in one of the accounts set up in the scam, could be refunded.

A spokeswoman for Santander said: "We are sympathetic to Mr and Mrs Williams’ situation and to all who suffer distress at the hands of criminals who carry out scams.

She added: "We continue to work closely with the authorities, other partners and the industry to combat fraud, as well as helping the police to ensure the criminals who cause such misery are brought to justice."

Gwent Police said officers are investigating the incident.