A Bradford businesswoman who lost £20,000 in a mail and internet con has warned others of the dangers of being tempted to make quick cash.

The 48-year-old woman, who does not want to be named, is backing a campaign by Consumer Direct following a surge in increasingly elaborate scams.

Last August the woman, who works in the travel industry, received an unsolicited letter purporting to be from a Honk Kong banker.

It stated that an account lay dormant in the bank after the death of a customer with funds of $8 million in it.

The sender proposed that if she agreed to become a beneficiary he would gain access to the account and equally split the funds with her.

The woman told the Telegraph & Argus: “I thought this sounded interesting. I did some research on the internet and the details seemed to check out. When I think about it now I realise what an idiot I was, but it was so convincing. The individual sent me all sorts of documents.”

At first, she said, she was concerned about the potential illegality of the scheme but decided to press ahead.

Finally, she received an e-mail saying the money had been sent but when it did not arrive she was told the Chinese government had seized the money over an alleged debt owed by the deceased.

In order to free up the money, she was asked to settle the debt and took out a bank loan of £20,000 which she transferred to Hong Kong. The £20,000 was immediately removed.

“It was too good to be true,” she said. “Everything seemed so legitimate, the banks, the people all existed. I felt quite safe sending the money. It was just such a horrendous lesson to learn. It was just stupidity.”

She reported the con to police in the UK and Hong Kong but she admitted there was little prospect of the conmen being caught or her money returned.

John Field, of Consumer Direct Yorkshire and Humber, said: “If you think a friend or relative might be falling victim ask questions, offer reassurance and advice but don’t criticise as this could do more harm than good.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “West Yorkshire Police urge people to delete messages and not respond to anything that appears to be a scam.

“We urge people to never give any bank or personal details out or part with any money.”