Impersonation scams are an everyday part of life in the UK. Text messages, phone calls and emails plague us all daily. Police and bank staff impersonation scams accounted for 14% of all Authorised Push Payment (bank transfer) scam cases in 2020.
£96.6 million was lost to scammers, the second highest type of Authorised Push Payment scam, accounting for 20% of total losses. Payment service providers only returned £59.5 million of the losses to customers.
Below is example of what happened to one of our clients.
'The afternoon of the 22/11/17. I received a mobile phone call. A man claiming to be from Barclays Bank. He asked me if it was correct that I had used my Barclays debit card in Newcastle that morning. I replied no I haven't. He went on to say that my card details had been used for the sum of £100. I replied again no that's definitely not me, I've never even been to Newcastle. The man said, yes, it's been flagged up as unusual activity on your account and whoever has used your details has put your account at risk and that is why we are ringing you today. I remember thinking at the time that a few weeks previously I had been in touch with the fraud team because my account had a transaction go through which wasn't me. The bank had sorted this transaction out and I thought it was a similar issue. Therefore, the bank ringing me regarding a fraudulent payment again was very believable. My husband and I thought that it was very possible that they were trying again and we were focused on the transaction and not the actual people who were ringing us.
At this point in time, I was under a lot of stress at home. I was caring for my husband who was severely disabled with Motor Neutron Disease (MND) and I was caring for him seven days a week, night and day. At this point I wasn't getting much help and sleep and I was emotionally exhausted. My husband had always been the one to sort out our financial affairs when he was well. I had recently taken over the rains regarding our finances. This made this situation even harder because I was unfamiliar with online banking. The situation I was in magnified any problems in which I was facing at the time. I was running on auto pilot.
As the conversation with the man from Barclays continued, I explained the situation I was in with my husband and that he would need to call me back. He said that he would call me back in fifteen minutes and that this needed urgent attention and then we ended the call. Anticipating his call, I rushed around to free myself up as I knew that this could be important. I remember looking at my phone to check the number again in preparation because I was anxious. The number said Barclay's on it and I remember thinking that it must be genuine and how helpful they were being, as this had happened two weeks before. I remember thinking the bank are really good looking after us and they were being really helpful.
I helped my husband and in no time at all he rang again. The man asked me if this was a good time to talk now and seems nice. I said yes it was and thanked him for his patience. I explained again my situation and was apologetic for not being able to talk initially. He spoke very professionally and sounded generally sorry for the situation we were in. He said because of what's happened my details and bank account were insecure. He said that we needed to act quickly to safe guard our money by changing account details. So acting on what I believed to be the correct course of action to safe guard our money I was talked into moving our funds to another account. I can remember a sense of urgency to do this. The man convincing me that this would be the only way to make our funds safe and that we had to act now! So, the man gave me the sort code and account number and asked for me to first transfer £1000 so I did. I remember feeling nervous as I did this. I was concerned that I had completed his request correctly as I hadn't made any transactions like this before and didn't want to get the details wrong. Then I transferred £5942. He had talked me through the whole process, I really believed he was trying to help me. He said thank you and that had all gone through. I kept on thanking him as I thought he really was helping me from fraudulent activity. Changing my account number to safeguard my money. We finally ended the call and I felt relieved that someone had helped me and thank goodness for the help from the bank like it was so lucky they had picked up on the fraudulent activity.
After I put the phone down, I checked our bank account online. The horror I felt when I saw nothing! I felt physically sick, anxious, totally foolish and so so upset. I couldn't think of anything else but guilt and anguish. I had to tell my husband what I'd done. He was unable to speak verbally back to me at the time because of his condition. But when I told him I could see the anger, pain and stress in his face. It was heart breaking. I felt I had let him down massively. How stupid I felt!
I know looking back now that I should have seen the red flags, but I was running on auto pilot and not thinking straight. I should have put the phone down and rang my local branch. But at this time my life was very chaotic and I was under enormous pressure. My husband's condition demanding all my attention. I was exhausted most of the time and this clouded my judgment.
It was late in the day now and I remember thinking that it was too late to go into the bank. So, I rang the Barclays fraud team to inform them of the incident and made an appointment to go into my local Bridgnorth branch the next day. That night I was so emotional. The feeling of guilt and embarrassment. I had been so foolish! Because of my husband's condition we slept in separate bedrooms. But I remember going to sleep that night crying to myself, feeling lonely, isolated. But looking back now I had little experience with banking and was just trying to do the right thing under already stressful circumstances.
The following day I went down to the local branch. They were very sympathetic and tried to reassure me that this matter would be dealt with. I hoped between them and the fraud team they would be able to find out where the money went and to stop the transaction. But I remember the bank saying that it was probably too late to stop the transaction and it had gone to a TSB account. Returning from the bank all I could do now is wait, hopefully for good news.
I received a letter from the bank dated 22/11/17 to say that the fraud team were investigating my claim which was good. I told my husband and reassured him that we would get the help we needed. We had informed them straight away and they knew where the money had been transferred to.
I received another letter from the bank dated 30/11/22 which said that I could not claim for that money that I had lost, as I had willingly given them the funds although they knew that the perpetrator had pretended to be bank staff. They did not want to investigate it further.
Looking back, I'm bewildered as to why Barclays Bank did not liaise with TSB, when they knew full well where the scammers bank account was held. Especially being as though I acted so quickly. All they had to do was contact TSB and get them to freeze the account that belonged to the scammers.
We were devastated and felt emotionally drained by it all. I became paranoid now about all calls that I received to the house and the whole experience left me feeling ill. I was not in a position then to challenge this verdict from the bank as I was exhausted and stressed.
I have been suffering from grief from the death of my husband for over four years, and only now have found the strength to deal with this matter. I feel that more could and should have been done by the bank to safe guard and recover our money.'
If you have lost money in an impersonation scam and have been let down by your bank, give us a call. We can help you recover your money.