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.
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.”
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”
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.”
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/