Scammers pretending to be my bank’s fraud department stole all my savings


The message I received from a victim of the fraud pandemic in Britain was as distressing as it gets.

“I’m a 26-year-old woman who works hard in London, saving for a better apartment and a better life, and now it’s all gone,” Alina Portnova told me.

She was the victim of authorized push payment fraud, where crooks pose as trusted organizations such as banks to trick people into transferring money to them.

Last year £ 479million was stolen this way, according to
to the UK Finance banking group.

Alina had received what looked like a text message from her bank, Barclays, saying that she wanted to verify a transaction she had made with Argos.

She responded by saying that she hadn’t bought anything from the retailer.

The next day she received a call apparently from Barclays’ fraud department, which made sense in light of the text the day before.

The caller said Alina could confirm he was calling from the bank by verifying the number – a common ploy by crooks who use software to make it look like they are calling from a different number.

Alina said the caller was even able to give her details of her last five banking transactions.

“After the security check he said he could see that someone from Manchester was logged into my banking app and also my Revolut mobile app,” she said.

“He said that in order to save my money, we had to act quickly and create a new secure account where we had to transfer it.”

Convinced that the call must be genuine, Alina followed the instructions to transfer her savings from Barclays to her Revolut account, and from there to Barclays and the supposed new secure account that had been opened in her name.

Which might have been nice if the money had really gone to Barclays, as it uses the ‘payee confirmation’ guarantee, which means it would verify that the account receiving its funds was in its name.

But the sort code was for the lesser-known ClearBank for an account managed by its partner, e-money provider Tide, which does not confirm recipient checks.

It was more than a terrible shock when Alina realized she had been the victim of a £ 5,672 fraud. She was also baffled that the appellant had so much financial information about her.

“I hadn’t given him any pin code or clicked on any link, but he was in my mobile banking app, I don’t know how,” she said. “I lost all my savings within hours.

The banking industry’s reimbursement code states that victims of fraud like this should be reimbursed unless they acted negligently, such as ignoring advice from a bank.

Revolut initially refused a refund, claiming it gave warnings before Alina transferred the money.

“Unfortunately, this means that your request falls into a category where we cannot help you and therefore we will not be able to reimburse you,” he wrote, adding tactlessly: “Have a nice day”.

I asked her to review her case, pointing out that Alina said the only warning she got was a message that she was transferring money to a new account.

Now she is fully reimbursed.

“I can’t express how grateful I am for your involvement,” she told me.

Revolut has said it takes customer protection very seriously.

“We are very sympathetic to Ms Portnova’s case, and after a thorough investigation we have refunded the money she lost as a result of the scam,” a spokesperson said.

“We are fully aware of the industry-wide risk of customers being coerced by organized criminals and our sophisticated and comprehensive anti-fraud systems have a strong track record of detecting, stopping and reporting. criminal activities.

“We will continue to invest heavily in anti-fraud technology and assess fraud cases on an individual basis, supporting customers who have been the victims of scams.”

ClearBank said it was introducing confirmation of payee checks from the end of this month.

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