‘I lost £8,000 and my bank won’t refund me’ | #scams | #elderlyscams
Claire Burgess feels really mad at herself. She says that if her elderly mother had fallen for the scam she fell for she’d be furious with her.
“I’m so embarrassed,” said the 37-year-old. “But you can see from social media that victims of this scam aren’t just vulnerable elderly people.”
Claire had £7,762 stolen from her after being taken in by a fraudulent text pretending to be from Royal Mail.
i’s money newsletter: savings and investment advice
Indeed, a message telling the recipient they have to pay a small unpaid shipping fee for their parcel to be released is catching people off guard, with so many of us ordering online because the high streets are virtually shut during lockdown.
The text urges shoppers to follow a link to a website that looks very similar to the Royal Mail’s and asks them to enter personal and financial details, putting them at risk of money being stolen or their accounts being hacked.
In a post on Twitter that has been widely shared, Emmeline Hartley, 28, spoke out about being duped, which prompted Claire to come forward to help raise awareness of the scam.
But while Emmeline’s bank Barclays reimbursed her lost £1,000, Claire hasn’t been as lucky.
She received half of the £2,595 robbed from her Halifax account back. But she says HSBC have said they will not refund any of the £5,100 stolen from her accounts with them. In total she is £6,464.50 out of pocket.
Claire, from Sussex, received the scam text on 1 February and had been waiting on various deliveries ahead of her stepson’s 21st birthday when she entered in her bank account details into the fake website.
“It got me because it said I’d had a missed delivery at 17.17 and I had just gone for a walk with my husband then.
“It asked me to pay £2.70 and I did think that it was suspicious it asked for my bank details but I thought there isn’t much someone could do with my bank account number and sort code, and in worst case scenario I’ve lost £2.70.”
A few days later the scammer called. “He sounded official and went through security. He asked ‘have you made any payments recently that you’ve been suspicious about?’ And I told him about the Royal Mail text and he said you’ve been scammed and your account has been compromised.
“He talked me through every step I needed to take and pre-empted every screen that I was going to come across on the app and sounded so professional.”
This has left me penniless until my next pay day weeks away. I said to HSBC, how do I eat? How do I pay the bills?
Claire did question how she could know he was a genuine HSBC employee, and he asked her to check the back of her bank card. “The number he was calling on was almost the same as the official number on my card, it was one digit out and he said the number he was calling on was the outgoing line and the one on the card the incoming number.”
While they were on the phone, the con man said a fraudulent attempt had been made for a payment of £849 to Argos and he said a warning text would shortly come through from the bank. And a message that appeared to be from HSBC did immediately ping though.
The fraudster convinced Claire any bank accounts accessed through her phone were vulnerable and talked her into moving her Halifax money.
She had been told she would be called back to set up online banking for her “new” account, but meanwhile she called HSBC to check the legitimacy of the call. “I was told it was a scam and I felt sick,” she said.
Claire is now pursuing a complaint through the Financial Ombudsman. “This has left me penniless until my next pay day weeks away. I said to HSBC, ‘how do I eat? How do I pay the bills?’”
Calls for better customer protection
Claire fell prey to what’s known as authorised push payment (APP) fraud, where customers are tricked into making payments to criminals. Fraudsters are increasingly using sophisticated techniques including telephone number “spoofing”, where the caller ID is modified to mimic the number of a real company or authority.
Almost £208m was lost to APP fraud in the first six months of last year and of this £73.1m was refunded to customers – only a third of cases, according to banking trade body UK Finance.
A voluntary code was launched in May 2019 that sets out standards for banks to follow regarding APP scams. But not all banks have signed up. There have been calls for more consistent application of the scheme by banks, and for banks to focus on preventing scams happening in the first place, from the Lending Standards Board (LSB), which oversees the code.
Furthermore, the code includes a pot of cash available to compensate “no-blame” cases but this is an interim funding measure, that has been extended three times, and now runs until the end of June 2021.
The Government has been under pressure to introduce new legislation for the long-term and figure out a sustainable funding solution, something which has slipped down the agenda with the impact of Covid.
‘I’ve had £9,000 stolen’ says student
Student Louisa Kitson has had £9,000 stolen from her bank account. She was also expecting a parcel when she received the Royal Mail scam text last week.
Distracted by her university work, she filled in her bank details and also received a call from someone pretending to be from her bank, Lloyds.
The 22-year-old was told two suspicious direct debits had been set up and her money was at risk. When she queried the legitimacy of the call, she was told to Google the Lloyds fraud number and it matched the caller’s ID – the scammers had used spoofing.
“He was very convincing, and he knew somehow how much was in my bank account,” she said. “I thanked him for helping save my money from the fraudsters, that as a student I didn’t have money to lose and he even told me he had kids and has talked to them about the dangers of bank fraud.”
Louisa, from Devon, had become suspicious when following the fraudster’s instructions to transfer her money in four separate transactions to a new “safe” account when her app told her it was a Barclays account not a Lloyds one.
“He said it was to trick the scammers because they could trace the account otherwise, he had an answer for everything. I’d been told my account was frozen so I tested it by sending £10 to my mum and it went through, that’s when I realised I’d been scammed.”
The fraudster had been trying to convince Louisa to transfer money from another account which she refused to do. “He got angry with me then and hung up.”
iMoney approached all three banks for comment and at the time of publishing, had not received a response from Lloyds or Halifax. HSBC declined to comment due to an ongoing Financial Ombudsman investigation.
What to do if you are not sure if a call is genuine
Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, warned that “criminals are experts are impersonating organisations that we know and trust”.
A spokesperson said: “It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone purporting to be from a well-known organisation, asking for your personal or financial details, that this could be a scam.”
The organisation advises:
- Hang up immediately as this could protect you and your money.
- If you are suspicious of any communication you receive, contact the organisation in question directly through a phone number you’ve used before to check if the communication you’ve received is genuine.
- If you need to contact the organisation to check the call was legitimate, wait five minutes; fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to contact your bank.
- You should also take care not to click on any links in unexpected emails or text messages as these could lead you to malicious websites after your personal and financial details.
- If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
- Action Fraud will refer all fraud crime cases to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). The NFIB is run by the City of London Police (which operates nationally).
For expert advice on how to get your money back if you’ve been scammed click here.
Do you have a real life story? Email email@example.com.