Blog: Consumer Advice
Helping a banking fraud victim
A few months ago an elderly friend of a friend asked for some help. They had been scammed and had £10K stolen. Was there anything I could do to help?
This wasn’t going to be a pleasant task: recovering monies stolen as a result of banking fraud is all but impossible. I was going to have to explain to an elderly, non tech savvy individual that their money was gone.
A quick look at her iPad revealed TeamViewer installed. She had been convinced to install it, the rest is fairly obvious.
Over a cup of tea, we walked step by step through the incident. She was clearly very upset, embarrassed to have been defrauded and concerned about her financial future. At best, I hoped to show her how it had happened, to make her feel better that she wasn’t alone and that such frauds are frustratingly common. A report to Action Fraud was probably as good as it was going to get.
Sequence of events
It started a couple of weeks prior: her debit card had been used for a small amount of fraud. Not uncommon. Fortunately she checked her bank statements regularly and noticed it.
She reported it to the banks’ fraud department by calling the number on the card. The bank took the details and said they would call back.
Shortly after, her phone rang with a caller ID of the same number. It was a gentleman from their fraud department, who explained that they would cancel and replace her card. A courier would come for the card that afternoon.
The courier duly came and took her card. A replacement would be delivered the following day.
No replacement came the following day, but the same gentleman called her towards the end of the day and explained that there had been further fraud on her account. He asked her to install some software to trace the fraud.
And shortly afterwards £10,000 was moved from her account.
I was immediately suspicious. The call from the ‘gentleman’ was clearly not from the bank. When the victim followed up direct with the bank later, they also explained that they would never send a courier for a card. No surprise there.
It’s all about the timing
But, the primary reason the victim fell for the scam was timing. She was expecting a call back from the bank fraud department. Her mobile rang with the correct caller ID, referencing the recent debit card fraud.
I asked her to write up her notes in a concise format and send them to the bank case officer investigating the case. I still had little hope of any monies being recovered.
My suspicion was that there was a data leak of some form going on in the bank fraud department. Either a security flaw, or (more likely in my opinion) a rogue employee feeding details of recent card fraud victims on to scammers. I suggested that she make this clear in her report.
Imagine my surprise when I received a message saying that the bank had accepted partial liability and had refunded all £10,000!”
If you receive a call purporting to be from your bank, don’t disclose anything. Call the bank back from the number you’ll find on their web site.
It’s fairly easy for the caller to ‘spoof’ the number they are calling from, making it appear that it’s the bank calling you. Hence, make sure you call them, not the other way around.
If the bank calls you on your home landline, call them back from your mobile phone.
Banks never collect debit cards using couriers. They will never ask for your PIN either.
There’s plenty more advice on the Action Fraud web site.