/ Money

Anyone can fall foul of a scam – and I’m proof of that

Phishing scam

One in 10 Which? members has been scammed in the past five years and with official figures showing that consumers lost a shocking £6.1bn to fraud in 2011, it’s clearly big business. I’ve found out the hard way.

I’ve worked at Which? for more than six years and I would say I’m pretty savvy when it comes to consumer issues. But that doesn’t mean I’m not susceptible to online scammers.

Indeed, only last week I found I’d become just another statistic in the world of the bank email phishing scam. Yes, I fell for the oldest trick in the book and my wallet was £240 lighter as a result.

Now, I know I shouldn’t respond to emails sent by my bank asking me to click on a link. And I know that when entering my personal details online I should make sure the site is secure (by checking it’s got a padlock sign in front of the web address). And, I also know that banks don’t ask you for these details via email. So, what went wrong? How was I so fooled so spectacularly?

Flurry of NatWest banking scams

Well, a number of coincidental events occurred to conspire against me that day. I’d tried to log in to my online NatWest account a few times and had entered the wrong password and PIN.

When I checked my emails I had one from my bank entitled: ‘Your account has been put on restricted status’. When I opened the email it went on to say that my online access had been ‘temporarily suspended’ and that this was due to ‘a number of incorrect log in attempts’.

As this happened to be true, I clicked on the link without thinking and began entering my online password and PIN. But then the alarm bells rang and before I’d entered all my details I promptly ceased what I was doing and closed down the page. But, it was too late.

£240 lost due to online phishing scam

That evening the fraudsters called NatWest pretending to be me, saying my card had been stolen and requested emergency cash. NatWest proceeded to give the scammers a PIN they could use in a cash machine whereupon they happily made a £240 dent in my bank balance.

When I filled up at the petrol station the following day I was told that my card was blocked (luckily I had just enough cash on me to pay for the fuel!). I contacted the bank and was informed that my account had been frozen.

After some further discussion, the fraudulent activity became clear. I was advised to make a claim for fraud, which to my surprise, has subsequently been turned down. I’m now in the process of appealing and do expect to have the money fully refunded.

Apart from the obvious financial loss my pride was also hugely dented. I felt really stupid especially as I work for Which?, and know about these things. Believe me, the irony is not lost on me. But it does just go to show that when your guard is down anyone can get scammed.

Have you been the victim of a scam? Did you report it and if so what response did you get?

Comments
Robert Bridges says:
27 October 2012

I had a similar experience recently – on my email. The account was suspended after I was (first) required to enter a human recognition number, and then informed I had ‘exceeded the number of wrong log-in attempts’, and should re-enter my details below. I didn’t.

I have ‘lost’ my email account before, and it is a dispiriting and devastating experience to lose years of correspondece and all internet communication details. On this latest occasion I logged-off and closed the internet connection; then re-opened re-entered my email access details. No problem!!

The clever thing about this attempted fraud was the request to type the human recognition number (or whatever is the right technical term for one of these). This lends an air of authenticity to the apparent security system, but must have been a connection to the phishing site. I was lucky.

Just a further warning. In the first post at the top of the page (by John Ward) he writes “My bank now puts my residential postcode on any e-mails it sends me with information about services – this is a further safeguard”.

Today I have received an email, purporting to be from the Halifax, which is clearly a phishing scam as it invites me to sign in to online banking using one of two embedded links. Also, the originator’s email address (hidden beneath the cover name of “Halifax Bank”) is definitely bogus.

However, the email does address me correctly using my surname and, what’s more, does include (correctly) the last 3 digits of my postcode. This is, as they say, to “confirm authenticity”.

So the moral is, don’t be fooled, as the scammers can even acquire this information to lull you into a false sense of security – though I’d be curious to know how?

exact same thing happened to me they only took 40 pounds natwest should make a personal password with you that you would never forget to say over phone before letting any moneys to be transferred out of cash points,

Cash savvy says:
11 January 2013

Just a word of warning. Had a call from Bank of England to say I had been scammed last April, knew I had not as I was living overseas, however, chap proceeded to tell me it was in connection with the Bank of Indian, warning bells!! Got quite aggressive when I asked for details and sort code of b of e (work in a bank too) would only send forms over the Internet and not via post – just love to keep them hopeful. Got quite cross when I would not give PayPal detail although never told I did. So, be warned if you have been scammed, they are scamming you again by offering to refund to original scam.

Sammi Xoxo says:
6 February 2013

Hello im sorry to steal your thread 🙁 and sad to hear all this!! I am also looking for some advice.. I opened an account with rbs.. got sent card pin sort code account number customer number etc i went to the branch with my paying in book that was sent and paid in 1k paying in bool was stamped and signed and i also asked for a receipt i txt the number that came with the card to activate my card but kept getting declined.. I spoke to someone workibg at royal bank of scotland online and they said my name doesnt match with the sort code account number and card number i have and said they cant assist any further! So i called them verifyed the details again and was told the same thing! She put me on hold to look into it further the line then went dead!! Has anybody ever experianced this? Or offer any advice.. im 25 disabled this has had a major effect on my health, I have no extra money to live on and i dont no where to turn next.
Thank you

Contact the Police and the Council’s Trading Standards. If you have Trade Union membership, their lawyers may be able to assist you, but may charge for this service. Good luck.

Julie says:
27 May 2014

Feeling like a complete idiot. I have opened an email which I thought was Barclays. it said my account was frozen due to suspicious activity. I dived straight in and opened the link, entered my full name and card details. I realised something was wrong almost immediately and telephoned the fraud department who explained that my online banking would now be stopped and I may not be compensated for any monies stolen from my account because I entered my details. I was told Barclays do not send e-mails only phone messages. As this has only happened this evening I am full of panic and not sure where I am going with this.

Julia Tweedale says:
7 October 2014

I haven’t opened any emails but bank with the natwest and have been a victim of frsud … My nat west debit card has been reported 16 times in the last three months … I’m at my whits end I have been held hostage at my garage until my husband came to the rescue as my card declined!!… No matter what actions I have put into place with nat west customer services ignore !!!… I received card number 17 today at 4.00pm and used it to pay my phone bill … The card was reported list today and cancelled at 6.22om I am so angry and natwest will not accept any responsibility … I have reported it to the police they are not interested as they say I’m not the victim the bank is!!… Well I feel like the victim my card has been declined in asda and was swallowed by the ATM machine in Majorca … And now I wait for another card … Who can stop this happening .. I have stated that under no circumstances must any emergency cash be given out of my account .. That was a waste they have given it three times since to this fraudster … Any advice aoart from changing my account although that is all I feel I can do now

Who reported card 17 lost? The fraudster?

If you can prove that you had an arrangement with customer services, and they ignored it to give your money to fraudsters, you might have a case against natwest in court.

Did card 16 have a different card number to card 17, and do you have an online banking account with natwest?

Julia Tweedale says:
8 October 2014

Hi there all my cards had different numbers on them the fraud team recommended I close my account and open a new one and the fraudster gained access to that within ten days and was given emergency cash I do not have online banking I cancelled that after the first card was reported stolen the bank have compensated me £270.00 as a gesture of goodwill £100 of that was for my telephone calls but no matter what I have put into place they still cancel the card each time … The bank have said they are pretty sure it is the same person ringing and cancelling the cards but they Idont ask for the new security password that has been set up on the account the fraudster would have no idea of that .. In fact they don’t even ask me it when I ring … I’m really at my whits end it has caused me so much stress … Nat west give me suggestions as how to stop the fraudster ie don’t write your pun down don’t open emails keep your card with you at all times all of which I have done but still I’m in to card 17 since the 13 June … I had a card cancelled on Friday and now a card cancelled Tuesday my argument is that surely customer services can see that I have had all these cards reported lost ?

Mike says:
15 June 2015

I had something similar with barclays last Friday, and I`ve just had the exact email purporting to come from Nat West: `We have detected suspicious activity etc.`. I didn`t click the link, but merely took a copy then deleted the email. I was going to phone the bank, but, after reading some of these comments, I`m going to drive the 15 miles to the bank first thing tomorrow.

Taylor says:
28 September 2015

I am getting text massages saying that several people are setting up accounts on my natwest when I don’t even have a natwest account 😳😴

It is now 2016 and this article helped me a lot to protect myself from Suspicious transactions in my account. Last week I continuously received phone calls and emails that they are speaking from NatWest bank and one of my relative has gifted me £ 50000 and they they want bank account number to deposit the amount in my account and they were also asking my credit card number and its password. This seems to me fraudulent call and to remove my doubt I called NatWest Customer Service and asked them about the matter. They replied that they have never made such calls and told me that other customers are also receiving similar calls and beware me about such calls. One of my friend who received similiar call, told them every thing and next day there was £ 10000 fraudulent transaction from his account. Best way to protect ourselves is to avoid such calls.

Steve says:
2 May 2016

I clicked on a link in a txt message telling me that my I tunes account had been de-activated and that I needed to submit my details to re-activate it. I did start putting info in i.e. my email, DOB and part of my home address but something alerted me and I closed the message. A couple of hours later I was notified that the link was a phishing site. Hoping that the limited info I put in wont cause any fraudulent activity?

LInda Long says:
11 February 2017

I have recently been scammed for £9000 the money was paid into a NatWest account. I informed my Bank Barclays and they evidently put a block on the account but I’m not sure if the fraudsters got the money out before this happened. The fraudsters then asked me to send proof of payment (not realising I know what they have done) as in a bank statement, showing the payment transfer with my details. Of course I’m not sending it but they claimed the bank asked them for proof of where the funds had come from – is that likely? Could the funds still be there and could they really still get it out if they prove where the money has come from? It could be another scam to get my bank details and also ID theft. I have since found out that they had another bank account with Natwest that was closed down last month for fraud – they used another name but even I was able to see it was the same people and scam. Does anyone think I might have a claim against that bank if my money has gone. I forgot to mention I went into Nat west and showed them the account and contract to try and check it out but was told it was a holding account from main office and not a branch sort code. They said the account wasn’t in that name either, they were aware I have already transferred the money and I had concerns but I don’t think they reported it or tried to look into it, all they said was your bank needs to do a trace – they took no responsibility that the account could be fraudulent and in their bank. Sorry its long but I’m desperately trying to look for answers and what I can do if my money has gone.

I certainly think you should contact Barclays Bank, Linda so that they can try to trace your money; there is a chance that it is in limbo somewhere between accounts. How did the scam work?