NHS nurse caught in a scam, but Halifax won’t pay out

I am an NHS intensive care nurse and have recently lost my entire life savings in a scam. I was phoned following a night shift from the telephone number of my bank, Halifax, which is printed on the back of my bank card. I checked this at the time of the call. The caller knew my account details and I was informed there had been suspicious activity on the card and that a payment of £7,000 was due to come out of my Isa savings account.

The scammer then advised that a new Isa account should be set up to protect my savings. I was told that due to Covid-19 this would have to be done online, rather than in my local branch. I was talked through the process and £12,000 was moved to a new account which had the same sort code as my own. I got a text from Halifax saying the name on the new account did not match the payee name I had entered, but the scammer said this was because it was a new account. Halifax told me I will not be receiving any money back as they considered I had been negligent.
BT, London

Since lockdown, a frightening number of readers have fallen victim to what is known as authorised push payment fraud, where customers are tricked into transferring money to criminals.

Your case is particularly distressing because of your frontline work during the pandemic. In checking the caller’s number you showed due diligence. What you did not know was that scammers can spoof the numbers that appear on your screen so that they match the number of the company they claim to be calling from. Nor did you know that banks will never cold-call you to move funds to a safe account.

It transpires that the fraud began days before. You had earlier been sent an email, along with hundreds of others, purporting to be from British Gas. The email, bearing the British Gas logo, informed recipients that they had an unpaid bill and would accrue large costs if it was not settled immediately. The details you submitted when you replied gave the scammers enough personal information to compromise your account and provide a cover story when they called you.

Halifax has signed up to the new Contingent Reimbursement Model, a voluntary scheme which requires member banks to reimburse fraud victims who have not been unduly careless.

The bank claimed it had decided to refund you the full sum before I intervened, despite its initial refusal, and it has added a £75 apology for not doing more to verify this unusual transaction.

The message can’t be repeated often enough – never click on emailed links and give out personal or bank details. And if you receive an unexpected call purporting to be from your bank, HMRC or any other organisation, hang up, look up the customer service number and dial it from a different phone since the scammers will keep the line open ready to trick you again if you use the same handset.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions

The Guardian

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