NATWEST has refused to refund two fraud victims who were cruelly scammed out of a whopping £28,000 between them.
Retired police officer Kevin Patrick had £11,000 stolen from his NatWest account by scammers who pretended to be from his email provider.
While Mike Elsey had £17,000 taken when fraudsters convinced him that his bank accounts were under threat.
It comes as BBC Watchdog Live says it has received more than twice as many complaints about how NatWest handles fraud cases than any other bank.
Financial Ombudsman Service figures revealed by The Sun earlier this month also show that NatWest is the worst bank for helping fraud customers.
The complaints body received 1,921 complaints about the way NatWest handled customers’ fraud or scam cases in 2018/19, up from 1,184 in 2017/18.
Just yesterday the bank signed up to a new code to reimburse victims of these so-called “authorised push payment (APP)” fraud scams.
But the code sadly comes too late for those who’ve already been scammed as it doesn’t apply to fraud that took place before May 28 2019.
Luckily for Kevin and Mike they were eventually refunded by NatWest when consumer rights programme Watchdog stepped in.
Kevin says he was tricked by scammers after receiving a call from someone posing as an engineer for his email provider.
They quoted a unique reference number, which Kevin had been given when he contacted his email provider about problems with his account.
With no reason to suspect the person he was talking to wasn’t who they claimed to be, Kevin agreed to give them access to his computer.
The fraudsters managed to access both his HSBC and NatWest accounts.
Kevin says an attempt to move money from his HSBC account was stopped by the bank and flagged as fraudulent but the fraudsters managed to transfer £11,000 from his NatWest account.
At the time, the bank said it would not refund Kevin because he allowed fraudsters to take over his computer.
Mike, meanwhile, was contacted by fraudsters who convinced him that his accounts were under threat and asked him to transfer money to a holding account to keep it safe.
He transferred around £60,000 in total from his Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest accounts. The fraudsters also took out a £50,000 loan in his name from Barclays.
But while Mike says Barclays and Lloyds both refunded him the cash and cancelled the loan, NatWest refused to pay out.
Last autumn the programme featured a story about Arthur who had £20,000 stolen while he was unconscious.
NatWest originally refused to refund the money, but after Watchdog got involved, the bank reversed its decision.
Watchdog presenter Steph McGovern says victims can’t be called negligent if they’ve been conned. She said: “Calling customers ‘negligent’ just doesn’t wash.
“You’ve not been negligent if you’ve been conned, because there’s no way you’d have let a fraudster anywhere near your cash if you’d known they were lying.”
How to protect yourself from fraudsters
ACTION Fraud recommends taking the following advice to stay safe:
- When making a purchase, be suspicious of any requests to pay by bank transfer or virtual currency instead of safer methods, such as credit card or payment services such as PayPal.
- Listen to your instincts: If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. Don’t pay for goods or services unless you know and trust the individual or business.
- Personal information obtained from data breaches is making it increasingly easier for fraudsters to create highly targeted phishing messages and calls – watch out for these.
- You shouldn’t assume the caller is genuine just because they’re able to provide some basic details about you.
- Always be suspicious of unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information.
The Sun has also previously reported stories where NatWest customers have been scammed out of their cash and not been refunded by the bank.
Cases include a retired NHS worker who lost £40,000 after she received a call which appeared to be from NatWest and a student who only got back £21.66 after he was scammed out of his £17,000 life savings.
A NatWest spokesperson said: “Fraud and scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and challenging for customers, so we are working harder than ever to keep our customers safe and secure.
“For instance, in recent months we have increased the warnings to customers making transactions on the app and online; updated our app; increased alerts to customers and continued to invest heavily in our security features for the protection of our customers.
“Since February, we’ve carried out additional checks on more than 11,000 payments and stopped £8.7million of potential scam payments after alerting our customers.
More on scams
“When customers do become victim to fraud or scams, we treat each case individually and constantly update our processes and procedures to ensure they are fair and above or in-line with the industry and guidance from the ombudsman and regulators.”
The full story can be seen on BBC Watchdog Live, tonight at 8pm on BBC One.
The Sun Says
SO-CALLED “bank transfer fraud” is slowly turning into the next PPI scandal.
So we can welcome the voluntary code whereby banks promise to pay back customers who through no fault of their own have been defrauded to the tune of thousands of pounds.
But it’s high time they went further, not just signing up to something that lasts only until the end of the year.
Instead they should follow the example of TSB, and put a proper guarantee in place indefinitely.
The banks have never woken up to how badly their reputation was damaged by the financial crisis.
TSB’s guarantee is a welcome step towards restoring that trust.
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