Online banking scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated. No more so than the one that targeted our guest writer. Jane Caldwell, who has appeared on Rip-Off Britain this week, describes how fraudsters scammed her out of £100,000.
On Saturday 28 January at 4pm I was phoned by what I thought was NatWest’s fraud department asking if I’d made two transactions, for several thousand pounds. I hadn’t, so the person at the other end of the phone informed me my online accounts had been compromised. I was told a stop had been put on the accounts but I needed to take action. Querying this I was told the transactions had been carried out from a different IP address to the one I usually use.
The caller asked me to look on my phone for the customer number for the NatWest. I was told they would phone me on my mobile from that number so I would know they were bonafide.
False sense of security
They called me and the customer service number appeared so I felt I was speaking with the fraud team. I hadn’t given them my number either so I assumed they used bank’s records to contact me. Logging into my bank account the scammer began querying several transactions I’d carried out the day before, asking if these were part of the scam. So far everything led me to believe I was speaking to the fraud team of NatWest.
They instructed me to open a new payee account, in my name, using my card reader and to transfer money into this. When I questioned this I was assured that as it was in my name the monies weren’t going anywhere but were clearing the virus on my account.
Unsure, I used my son’s mobile phone to call the NatWest customer service number myself to check I was speaking to the fraud team. At this point the person on the other end of the phone asked why I was doing this. Later I would find out that my webcam had been hacked letting the person I was speaking to see everything I was doing.
£100,000 out of pocket
I also moved £85,000 from our Nationwide accounts to clear viruses, again all set up in our names.
By the end of the call, thinking I had checked on numerous occasions the validity of the call, I thought I’d prevented a scam only to realise the opposite on Sunday morning.
Our accounts had been cleared of all our money, savings, pension lump sum, my late father’s inheritance, to the sum of £100,000.
We have since discovered that malware was probably downloaded onto my laptop enabling the scammers to see what was on the computer as I typed and to watch me on the camera as I made calls to customer service.
Nationwide have retrieved £25,000 but all other accounts were cleared within minutes of me making the payments.
Current legislation states banks are not responsible for these push payments, but if this had happened in America we would have got all our money back. Isn’t it time for a change in legislation?
This is a guest post by Jane Caldwell. All views expressed here are her own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?
Watch Jane’s story as she told it on the BBC’s Rip-Off Britain.