Frail Westgate pensioner loses £10,000 in phone scam and initially refused refund by bank

Phone scam

UPDATE: Today (July 27) Nat West has informed the gentleman that his money has been refunded

A 78 year old man from Westgate has lost almost £10,000 to phone scammers and was told he was unlikely to receive any refund from his bank.

The man, who has asked not to be named, has been struggling since the death of his son four years ago and the loss of his wife last year.

He uses a computer but is not IT ‘savvy’ and is physically frail as well as suffering the shock of his family losses.

The pensioner had been using his savings to top up his pension so he could pay bills which have become difficult now that his wife’s pension no longer comes into the home.

Phone scam

But cruel scammers tricked the man after calling his landline and saying they were from BT and examining a fault on his line.

A friend who has been trying to help the man deal with bank fraud teams said: “He said he was calling from BT with reference to a fault on his line. He was told that there had been several ‘red flags’ coming up over the past week on his line and the caller asked  if he had had any trouble with his phone, like crackling or if the broadband signal was dropping or if his computer was running slow.

“His computer had been running slow for a while but he thought it was just him ‘not clearing it out’, as he put it. Basically, the computer probably fell off the ark and he doesn’t really know what he is doing with it.

“That was the hook the scammers needed.  The caller said that he wanted to run some tests and my friend agreed.”

Cruel trick

He was told he had been hacked but it could be solved. He was then tricked into giving them remote access to his computer and asked if he would help them catch the hacker.

The man’s friend said: “He was told that his bank account was being watched by this hacker. This, of course, panicked him. The scammer said that they would put a large amount of money into his current account and then send it to an address which they would email him. My friend did not see the problem with this as he thought he was helping BT catch a hacker.

“I believe they did this, as his savings were in a Lloyds account, which is a savings account only, in his name and money could only be taken out to a designated payee. “It seems that these despicable people were unable to touch it. So they had to do something else.

“He was told that he should “email an ADRP” to say that it was coming and when the hacker saw this, it would open up on payment and the security team would be able to catch the hacker at it.

“My friend said that made him feel a lot happier because he felt his computer was mended and he told the scammer that he would by all means like to help them catch the person who had hacked into his computer and who was watching his bank accounts.”

After a lengthy time the man said he heard shouts of joy and was told they had got the hacker and the police were on their way. They had removed ‘the bait’ from his account and as a gesture of all the time and help that he had been to them, he would receive a reward of £350 in his Nat West account from BT.”

Bank account stripped

Sadly, the scammers had taken £9850 by transferring funds from his Lloyds savings account to his Nat West current account and then to themselves. They then closed both his accounts. A second attempt to take £5100 was flagged as fraudulent and stopped.

The pensioner reported the scam to police and the banks. He says Lloyds were unable to help as the money was transferred to his Nat West account.

An email from the digital fraud team at Nat West said: “The information provided when reporting the loss to your account conflicted with details brought to light during further investigation by our fraud team. As a result of this we are not in a position to offer a refund for the fraud claim.”

His friend has contacted the banks and said they want to appeal the decision. She has registered power of attorney but says she is being told to contact a team that can only be reached by email.

The friend says more attempts to scam the man over the phone have been made and she is still in wrangles with both banks to try and get her friend’s money back. The police have been unable to help.

She said: “The voluntary code commits banks that are signed up to it to a series of measures to tackle APP fraud, such as educating customers about scammers and how they work. It also says banks must try to identify customers who are at higher risk of becoming a victim, warn customers when they’ve spotted a scam and try to delay payments while investigating potential scams.”

“There’s an exception to the rules above if a customer is classed as vulnerable.”

Nat West and Lloyds were contacted by The Isle of Thanet News but were unable to discuss the case without email authorisation from the victim, who struggled to provide this.

UPDATE: This afternoon the victim’s friend was informed that Nat West has refunded the full amount to his account.

A spokesperson for Lloyds said: “Helping keep our customers’ money safe is our priority and we have a great deal of sympathy for the victim of this crime. We carefully review the individual details of each scam case reported to us in line with the industry code and consider a number of factors – including whether the bank could have taken any additional steps to help prevent the scam taking place, and if the customer took reasonable care when making payments.

“Two payments were attempted as part of the scam. Firstly, a transfer was made from his Lloyds Bank account to another account in his own name at NatWest, to which he’d also transferred money previously. This was not blocked by our system as account holders moving money between their own accounts is, as you’d expect, extremely common. As the funds were then transferred to the fraudsters out of his NatWest account, it is they who would need to decide whether a refund can be provided.

“A second payment was also attempted from his Lloyds Bank account, however as this was to a new beneficiary account he hadn’t paid before, this was immediately blocked by our fraud detection systems, and no money was lost.

“We’ve been speaking to his Power of Attorney to understand more details about what happened and any further support we can provide, and we’ve been informed that NatWest has now provided a full refund of the money he lost to the fraudsters.

“We’ve also provided scam awareness information to his Power of Attorney so she can discuss this with him. This includes the latest themes and trends that we are seeing and ways to hopefully prevent this situation from happening again. This information is available to all of our customers and can be found on our website: How to Protect Yourself From Fraud | Lloyds Bank

Incident investigated

A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police was contacted on Tuesday 21 June and it was reported that a man living in the Westgate-on-Sea area had been defrauded.

“The victim had received a phone call purporting to be from his telephone and internet provider and saying there had been problems with his service.

“It was reported that he had then been talked into accepting remote access of his computer, before a large amount of money was transferred from his bank account.

“The incident was investigated and has been filed pending any further lines of enquiry coming to light.

“Kent Police urges people of all ages to be vigilant when contacted by anyone they do not know and trust, and to take precautions around the use of online banking and mobile apps.”

‘Sobbing’

The victim’s friend said: “He had no access to his account, but Nat West have sent him a text telling him he is overdrawn, which resulted in him sobbing his heart out on me. It is the anniversary of his wife’s death so he is in bits anyway. I am fearful of his emotional state of mind.

“I am trying the best I can to sort out his financial affairs which is proving extremely difficult. I have managed to negotiate between his two local branches to cover the overdraft and any direct debits and standing orders for this month, but after that – he has no money left.

“This process is extremely stressful for the both of us.”

For advice about protecting yourself from scammers visit: www.kent.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/online-fraud/

17 Comments

  1. Poor man I hope they catch these wicked con artists, and that the banks reconciler their stance in this awful case

  2. The banks need to take responsibility for these scams. If any amount of money above say a £1000 was being moved the banks should phone / text the account holder to check the transaction as Nationwide does now. We telephoned to order a takeaway and nationwide telephoned me to say our card had been compromised because it was being used in the takeaway and another country. When the takeaway was ordered it transpired that the person repeated the numbers out loud and another person nearby text the card details to another country.

    • Seriously? You believe the owner of the takeout shop didn’t deliberately try and scam you?
      Pay cash only to some shops!

  3. I’m disgusted with the bank, it’s peanuts to them. I hope they get their finger out.

    A carefully worded letter to the bank , along the lines he is sorry he has lost his money and understands the rules but HE Feels this is something the public SHOLULD BE MADE AWARE OF, I think will get results.

    • People have been made aware of it for decades-over & over on television, in the papers, magazines, the companies like BT & banks who make it clear & over & over on these platforms that they will never make calls like this & how to spot fake e-mails, even by the police-yet they continue to fall for it-many more than once.

      I can remember a show about boiler room scams some years back-the elderly couple in one sad scene had been conned out of their life savings, one died not long after filming & the other had to sell the house to pay to go into care. They still believed the calls that kept coming were genuine, even when the police were in the house when one call came in & the cops there already investigating one scam telling them it was another con-what can you do for people like this?

      I have no real sympathy for the banks-after all their greed bled the world dry & then the public had to bail them out & they continue the same old offering loans to those that cannot pay them back, misselling products, laundering drug cartels money etc. However they are ultimately a business & why should they be liable for people’s foolhardiness & in some cases greed over & over? I am more sympathetic to cases like this, but not at all for greedy millionaires who fall for scams purely because they are promised more riches.

      Also them having to pay out all this cash does have a knock-on effect to the public via making up the shortfall-increased charges, the firing of more staff & the closing of more branches. All because people are still living in some imaginary England that never existed-where everybody was a wonderful person & con artists didn’t exist, or don’t take a few seconds to think of the total lack of logic of what they are being asked to do & put the phone down or delete the e-mail.

  4. Write to the Telegraph newspaper, I see banks refund many readers on there in similar situation.

    The shouts of joy the victim heard were the friendly Indian call centre scam business celebrating the win. They have no care in the world ripping off Westerners who deserve it in their eyes. And we give this country aid!

    Check youtube videos for people who get revenge on these scammers by hacking them and pranking them. They get them shut down sometimes but only temporary.

  5. This is absolutely terrible. And it goes on all over the world, every day. These criminals make vast amounts of money from these scams.
    Sadly, they won’t be caught, because they are based overseas.

    But: Caveat Emptor.
    It is not the bank’s fault, any more than if someone persuaded me to put £1000 on a “sure winner” in the Derby, and I never heard from them again.
    And it won’t be the bank that pays. It will be us, in the long run.
    If you’ve got nothing better to do and you get a phone call from “Microsoft”, “Outreach”, “Visa”, the “Inland tevenue” or whatever, keep them talking for as long as you can (it’s their bill). Whilst they’re wasting their time with you, they aren’t scamming some poor old pensioner.

    • No, the more you show interest with scammers they will see you as a potential target that information can be obtained from piece by piece. The best thing to do is just put the phone down-that way you show them you know their game & have no interest-so you are worthless to them.

      • I’m quite happy that scammers call me and waste their time and money. Every minute they spend trying to convince me to pay to have a virus fixed on my pc is one less minute spent scamming confused and bewildered older people.

        • It is peanuts-they only need to scam one person a week, let alone a day to make vast sums. The only way it is stops is if everybody puts the phone down right away & ignores the e-mails.

          Just like in the days before the internet was that popular they would be happy to waste money on envelopes & postage bombarding letterboxes-because it only takes one fairly wealthy person to bite & they clean up.

  6. I think this is the same scam that was tried on us a couple of months back. And something similar happened about a year ago. At first the callers sounded fairly convincing but when I played them along they became more & more frantic. That made me wonder whether they themselves were under duress – modern slavery?
    Really hope this chap did get his money back. And also that he doesn’t blame himself. A moment of weakness and almost anybody can become a victim.

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