Fraud Warning

We all say “it won’t happen to me”, but it’s just happened to someone I know. One convincing phone call and they’ve lost £2000 – pretty much all the money they had.

I’ve heard of this one before, but it’s been a while so it’s worth reminding people how easy it is for these scum to defraud you and how confident they are in doing so. Also how hard it is to get your money back, if at all, afterwards. The banks aren’t exactly bending over backwards to refund it – Santander in this case. First contact said the bank wouldn’t cover it, advised them to go to a high street branch, but transferred them to the fraud department. Last I spoke to them they were still on hold after over an hour.

The scam began with a phone call which was identified by their phone as coming from Santander. The person on the end knew their details (name, phone, account) and answered enough questions to identify themselves as being bank staff. If I’ve picked it up right, they knew the answers to his security questions.

Apparently his account was frozen as someone had spent £199 in Liverpool which they thought was odd. He confirmed it wasn’t him and they told him he had to close that account and move everything to a new one for security.

In small amounts.

This should ring alarm bells. A bank can transfer thousands in a go. The only reason for chunking it is to avoid flags going up for a large transfer. Try and shift £2000 in one go and expect something to ping on an app, opr request a code sent to a phone. Shift, say, £200 ten times and it may ping eventually, but not for a while. Long enough for them to steal a fair bit.

So that’s what happened. A disguised phone call from someone with a good story and far too many convincing details (we have no idea how they got hold of them), and an unsympathetic bank.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow when they approach an actual branch, but I fear the money is gone. I’ve advised them to inform the police. They likely can’t help, but it’s useful to them to have a record of this happening.

So be careful. If you get a call from “your bank” with a similar story, get the details and hang up. Ensure the call has disconnected – this is more an issue with landlines. Look up their number (check the back of your bank card, for instance) and call them back. That way you know you’re talking to someone genuine.

Header image by Mohamed Hassn via Pixabay

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