70-year-old retiree lost £ 8,000 in bank number theft scam


If someone calls you and tells you they are from your bank, just because the caller ID number on your phone is the same as the one on your bank statement or on the back of your credit card. debit, there is no guarantee that this is a real call.

You could talk to a scammer who used software to deliberately send false information to alter the caller display and mimic the number of a real company or authority – a trick known as malicious number spoofing. .

There has been an “explosion” in the number of criminals spoofing phone numbers over the past 12 months, according to Graeme Biggar, executive director of the National Economic Crime Center at the National Crime Agency. With the HMRC scams alone, more than 2,700 numbers have been taken from circulation after being reported, but he says phone companies should do more to stop this type of fraud.

A recent report by industry body UK Finance found that the number of reported cases of identity theft fraud – including fraudulent calls – nearly doubled last year to 40,000.

“ I felt sick, this is not money that I can afford to lose ”

Jeffrey Bass was robbed of nearly £ 8,000 in January this year – and the taxi driver says money is limited now that his income has fallen due to the pandemic.

About six weeks before this happened, the 70-year-old had fallen under the spell of a phishing email claiming to be from PayPal and asking him to update his bank details.

A week later, he received an authentic text from his bank, HSBC, informing him that there had been attempted fraudulent transactions with his debit card and that a new card had been issued.

Then on New Years Eve, a man called and introduced himself as the head of fraud at HSBC. He told Jeffery his account had been compromised and £ 18,000 of his money was in danger. Transactions were halted, he said, but his existing account had to be frozen and a new “safe” account created to transfer his money.

The retiree wondered how he could know the caller was genuine and, having initially called from a withheld number, the scammer called back on a number that matched a real HSBC number.

“I had never heard of number spoofing,” Jeffrey said. “I was in such a state thinking my money was in danger. This guy looked official, knew my name, and went through security as usual. “

Jeffrey has transferred £ 7,900 to the new ‘secure’ account. The criminal said he would call back the next day due to a limit on the amount that can be transferred in a day, with the aim of stealing more money.

After phoning the scammer, Jeffrey says he tried to call HSBC’s fraud line, but couldn’t get through.

“The guy called back at 9 am and said he couldn’t transfer the remaining funds until noon when he would call back. He told me that I should not discuss this with anyone as it is an ongoing fraud investigation which raised the alarm. “

Jeffrey called the HSBC scam line – which he said took three hours to access – when told he had been scammed. “I felt sick, it’s not money I can afford to lose.”

Calls for better customer protection

Banks are under pressure to better protect their customers against fraud (Photo: Milan Jovic via Getty Images)

HSBC reimbursed half of the amount stolen. “The bank says I’m partially responsible,” Jeffrey said. “They said there was a warning that my new account name didn’t match, but I don’t remember seeing that. I’m not helping, because it takes hours to get to the bank’s fraud line. “

His sister Ruth Jacobs said: “My brother only recently started using online banking. He was happy to bring his taxi earnings to the branch. I think banks should do more to protect vulnerable customers. “

Jeffrey filed a complaint with the financial mediator. HSBC has been asked for comments.

He was the victim of Authorized Push Payment (APP) fraud, where customers are tricked into making payments to criminals. Almost £ 208million has been lost due to this type of fraud in the first six months of last year and of that £ 73.1million has been refunded to customers – only a third of cases, according to UK Finance.

A voluntary code was launched in May 2019 that sets out the standards banks must follow when it comes to APP scams. But not all banks have signed up. There have been calls for a more consistent application of the system by banks and for banks to focus on scam prevention first, from the Lending Standards Board (LSB), which oversees the code.

In addition, the code includes a pot of cash available to make up for ‘blameless’ cases, but it is an interim funding measure, which has been extended three times and now runs until the end of June 2021.

The government has come under pressure to introduce new long-term legislation and find a sustainable financing solution, which has slipped onto the agenda with the impact of Covid.

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What to do if you are not sure whether a call is genuine

Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting center, has warned that “criminals are experts posing as organizations we know and trust.”

A spokesperson said: “It is important to remember that if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from a well-known organization, asking for your personal or financial details, it could be a scam.”

The organization advises:

  • Hang up immediately as this may protect you and your money.
  • If you have any doubts about any communication you receive, contact the organization in question directly through a phone number that you have previously used to verify if the communication you have received is genuine.
  • If you need to contact the organization to verify that the call was legitimate, wait five minutes; scammers can stay online after hanging up. You can also use a different line to contact your bank.
  • You should also be careful not to click any links in any unexpected emails or text messages as these could lead you to malicious websites after your personal and financial information.
  • If you believe you have 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 report all fraud cases to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). The NFIB is administered 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 story? Send an email to [email protected]

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