'I was scammed while online shopping in my sleep'

Kelly Knipes suffers from a rare disorder that sees her shop in her sleep. (SWNS)
Kelly Knipes suffers from a rare disorder that sees her shop in her sleep. (SWNS)

A woman with a rare sleep disorder says she was scammed after putting her bank details into a dodgy site while shopping in her sleep.

Kelly Knipes, 42, first began to notice that she was regularly sleepwalking after the birth of her first child in 2006.

This soon developed into sleep shopping, a habit which has seen her spend over £3,000 on items such as a full-size plastic basketball court and Haribo while she snoozes.

In March, Knipes received a spam text impersonating the government, offering financial assistance for her bills. While sleeping, she gave the scammers her financial information and has since been targeted several times after she suspects they sold her information.

"I filled out a form after I got this text – I wouldn't have replied to it if I was awake,” she says. "It was this scam that said I was owed £400 from the government to help with my bills. I gave them all my details, then when I woke up, they had taken £250 out of my bank account."

She adds that she’s had to cancel cards a few times, and that she thinks the scammers have sold on her information.

"It can be anxiety-inducing. It's really upsetting and frustrating going to bed thinking 'I don't know what the night is going to lead to',” she explains.

Knipes, from Basildon, Essex, was diagnosed with parasomnia in 2018, and believes the disorder was brought on by her sleep apnoea.

Kelly has spent over £3,000 in her sleep. (SWNS)
Kelly has spent over £3,000 in her sleep. (SWNS)

She has also bought tins of paint, books about teaching, salt and pepper pots, a Wendy house, fridges and tables.

"I couldn't refund any food purchases, like the Haribos,” Knipes, who runs an events business, says.

"I kept the tins of paint, and the Wendy house because when that arrived and my kids saw it I felt I couldn't return it. I would never actually have to put any credit card details when I was buying things online because it was all saved on my phone.”

Along with inadvertently shopping, Knipes says the disorder has caused her to do several other things such as take an overdose of diabetes medication when she was pregnant in 2015 after dreaming that she was speaking to doctors.

She adds that, when she lived in a ground floor flat, she would wake up to find all of the windows and doors open after she’d been up in the night.

In 2018, a doctor determined that Knipes’ disorder was due to obstructive sleep apnea – which would cause her brain to partially wake.

Her circumstances were improved significantly by wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to keep the airway open at night. But it hasn't been a miracle cure for Knipes as the CPAP causes her jaw to lock and she unwittingly removes the machine from her face in her sleep.

Six years on from the diagnosis and Knipes is still plagued by her sleep habits as, after being scammed in March this year, there have been five further attempts made to withdraw different sums of money from her account.

"Once I gave my details to that one scam, it was the ricochet effect,” she adds. "Since the first time I've had people trying to take anything from £20 to £200 – but luckily the bank blocks them."

Parasomnia is the name for a collective group of sleep disorders that are undesirable and occur during your sleep.

Patient Info estimates that around 4% of the adult population have some form of parasomnia, and that it is more common in people with preexisting psychiatric disorders.

Other risk factors of parasomnia include sleep apnoea, alcohol intake close to bedtime, shift work, excessive need for sleep, and stress.