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Gloria Hunniford: ‘Unquestionably, banks can do more to stop scams’

Steal savings

TV presenter, Gloria Hunniford, had £120k stolen from her Santander savings account when four strangers went into a different Santander branch and had themselves added as signatories to her account. Gloria joins us to tell us why financial institutions must do more to stop bank transfer scams.

I’m used to dealing with scams of all sorts on Rip Off Britain, but in my case, and in lots of others I’ve heard of subsequently, there’s nothing I could have done to prevent the scam that happened to me.

Now, I genuinely don’t expect everyone to know who I am. In court, the girl from the bank who served the scammers was young, so hadn’t heard of me and I do understand that. But the main scammer, the woman who is still on the run, used a fake licence to access my savings account and subsequently added her so-called grandson as a signatory on the account.

There are many things that don’t add up. I don’t know how they knew that a) I banked with Santander and b) what my account number was. It’s an account locked away and untouched for nearly two years. It also has no bank card or passbook attached to it, and even I wouldn’t know the number without looking it up.

However, according the police, in all probability this driving license was probably made in a sitting room somewhere. On top of that my driving license is in my married name and not that of Hunniford.

So when this scam happened last June I was mystified. I now feel very violated and exceptionally mystified. Even though there has been a court case, there are many angles to it I still don’t understand. The two women are still on the run, the alleged grandson was given a suspended sentence and, at the time of writing, the second boy has not been sentenced.

Bank account fraud

The young boy, who was allegedly my grandson, was withdrawing £1,000, £2,000, £5,000, and £10,000 at a time. In the end, he’d taken over £101,000 in one day and a further £18,000 the following day!

The scam was uncovered by the bank of the scammers, who in turn got in touch with Santander to say that this is not correct and it’s not the normal activity on this particular account.

Since my case, Santander tells me it’s installed state-of-the-art IT in every branch in the country that’s supposed to pick up on fake licences and other documents. But this is 2016, for me it’s like closing the gate once the horse has bolted. Scams have been going on for decades and are getting more sophisticated year-on-year, so why is it only coming in now?

It leaves me feeling very insecure. The Santander account is what I’d thought was a safe savings account. This experience has totally affected my trust in Santander and in banks in general.

Banks can do more

For the older community and long-standing customers, banks just don’t have anything to give you these days. They don’t have any interest on savings so the only thing they can give you is trust. And loyalty. And security. So I’m very disillusioned.

It used to be, as a child, you could go to the bank and deposit your £5 and you’d have great faith that you knew it was safe. You’d get a little bit of interest on it and you were proud of saving. My dad taught me to save when I was a kid; you had that joy of going to the bank and knowing that your money was looked after. I’m afraid with scammers around that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

So if your money isn’t safe in a bank and you’re not getting any interest on it, what do you do with it?

Protection from bank transfer scams

Recently for Rip Off Britain I did an interview with the former head of the fraud squad and he confirmed that the banks could be doing so much more, by putting investment into highly sophisticated tech which could prevent scams like this. In my case, the bank teller said in court that she had checked the driving licences under UV light. But my expert tells me that UV light will never tell conclusively whether a document is fake or not.

Unquestionably, companies could do much more to prevent bank transfer scams from happening and protect their customers. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anybody else. In reality, with my scam, it proved more difficult for me to access my own money with all the security questions than for four complete strangers to get to it.

Loyalty, trust and credibility are the only things that any company has to offer you. My advice is that you can never ever be that trusting and think that everything’s locked up safely, because that isn’t necessarily the case. The reality is that you can never be too diligent or careful about monitoring what you have and where you have it.

This is a guest contribution by Gloria Hunniford, TV and radio personality and presenter of Rip Off Britain. All views expressed here are Gloria’s own, not necessarily those shared by Which?.

Have you been affected by similar bank transfer scams? Do you think banks need to do more to protect their customers from scams?


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A possible explanation, Alan, is that your water is supplied by one of the remaining private water companies which has low charges for water supply [whether metered or unmetered] whereas waste water disposal and various environmental functions – like flood prevention, river water quality, and clean beaches – are dealt with by your regional water company that has set a flat rate per property for that service. In that situation the local water supply company does the billing and payment collection so is merely acting as an agent for the regional water company’s charges to householders.

michael howells says:
21 October 2016

I think transfers from one account to another are open to abuse. I think bank account holders should have the right to get a text message every time a transfer is for £100 or more. Also the legal right to say no to same day transfers and be allowed up to 5 working days to challenge or cancel proposed transfers. This would, I hope, deter hacking by criminals including terrorists.

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stuart graham says:
21 October 2016

Why dont the police want to get involved in bank fraud, it is a crime after all

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Now that Jessie James has been and gone what risks do banks face?
Why do they need to make charges for handling our money ?
The idea was that they kept our cash safe,invested some of it to make a profit and cover their costs,have they now become so bloated that they can’t do the simple things or has greed, big salaries,big cars become the norm ?

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Bill – There is no need to pay bank charges for basic money-handling services, providing and processing cheques, debit cards, regular statements, counter services, advice, convenient withdrawal facilities round the clock via ATM’s, access to other services. So long as customers take care over their own security their money is safe in the bank and protected from fraud provided the customer has not in some way contributed to it.

I was requested by a british property agent Amba Sun to make the payment of £39,114.23 = 55640 Euros into Barclays Bank in Edge Baston Birmingham.This was second payment for an off plan property in Spain in total with the initial £3000 paid in Spain £58640 euros was paid. In November 2008 I was told the property had not been built and needed to seek legal assistance. The Spanish solicitor here has totally mismanaged my case. The criminal proceedings in Spain are at an impasse as the builder denied he got the money from Amba Sun on seeing my money was paid via Amba in UK bank. I have written to Serious Fraud in an attempt to find out where my money went from Barclays they will only give this information to the police. The british are owed 500 billion then there are the Spain’s buyers. I attempted
to get my money via the Spanish Bank of developer. Guess what one of the companies charged in court
along with Amba Sun was another British company High Park Homes S.L Rigby Building Contractors Southport. These two companies were not in court the Spanish police could not locate them. They are
here in clear view. I have just recently been informed that I cannot claim from the banks because my
property was built on time and licence of occupation is in the name of HIGH PARK HOMES S.L the
directors Alfredo Sougar. If the banks in Spain are liable to repay money deposited Then Barclay’s Bank should be liable here if these companies have taken clients money or property. What do you think it
would be great if the police could find out WHERE DID MY MONEY GO. My case was referred for
investigation months ago no one has been to see my evidence Jenny

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Already posted, Duncan, in the Amazon Lock topic.