A VULNERABLE pensioner was tricked into transferring £2,500 to fraudsters – and his bank refused to refund him until The Sun stepped in.
John* was conned into transferring the cash from his Halifax account to an account run by scammers.
3 John, 77, suffers from dementia and he was tricked out of £2,500 by scammers
But when his daughter Katya Simpole called the bank to explain her father was a 77-year-old with dementia who had been conned, the bank would not issue a refund.
The former businessman, who was diagnosed with dementia last year, was contacted in March by scammers posing as advisors from investment group Janus Henderson.
The fake advisors sent him letters and repeatedly phoned claiming he had £19,000 worth of old shares which he could release if he paid a £2,500 fee.
John went into his local Halifax branch in Reading, Berkshire, to ask staff to transfer the money to an account number the fraudsters gave him.
Despite appearing physically vulnerable – John has problems dressing and cannot walk well – bank staff did not question the transaction.
3 John with his daughter Katya when she was a baby
Legally banks do not have to refund victims of so-called “authorised push payment” fraud, or APP, where customers are tricked into transferring money or handing over passwords to fraudsters as they can claim the customer was responsible.
Last month, TSB became the first UK bank to agree to refund all fraud victims, no matter what type of scam they had fallen for.
Earlier this week, 17 banks and building societies representing over 85 per cent of APP scams signed up to a new code which promises to refund victims who are tricked into transferring cash.
John’s bank Halifax, part of Lloyds Banking Group, is one of the banks to sign up to the code – but crucially, banks do not have to refund victims who were victims before the new rules were put in place.
3 His daughter Katya, 43, told Halifax about the scam, but it refused to offer a refund
A system called Banking Protocol normally kicks in when staff suspect someone vulnerable has been groomed into believing a scam.
It sees staff question the customer about why they are making a transfer or withdrawing money – and call the police if they suspect foul play.
But John was able to transfer the money and go home without question.
When he told his daughter what had happened two days later, she immediately knew it was a scam.
“I phoned Halifax straight away and I must have phoned them 15 times asking for help, but they refused to speak to me,” she said.
“I was telling them that my dad was vulnerable – I was astonished that no one would help.”
Katya, 43, lives in Manchester – around 200 miles away from her dad – and is still waiting for Power of Attorney paperwork to come through which would give her the legal right to deal with his affairs.
How to protect yourself from fraudstersACTION 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.
It meant the bank would not discuss her dad’s case with her, even though she was trying to warn them he was at risk.
Halifax eventually agreed to put a warning flag on his account to show he was vulnerable – and it kicked in to stop him making a transfer when he was tricked again just a week later.
But the bank refused to refund him the initial £2,500 he lost – despite his daughter making clear he was not to blame.
Katya added: “I think banks should be kinder to their customers, do everything they can to help them in this situation and show some humanity.
“I felt quite degraded because I was so ignored and badly treated.
“If it’s a vulnerable person like my dad they absolutely should refund the money – how is it that banks are able to get away with not caring about their customers any more?”
John said: “Halifax have refused [the refund]. The implication is that it was my fault. I didn’t know they [the scammers] were trying to run off with my money.”
After Sun Money contacted Halifax, it agreed to refund John the full amount.
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A spokesman said: “Helping keep our customers’ money safe is a top priority, and our branch colleagues are specially trained to take specific steps when they spot suspicious or unusual activity before processing payments.
“It’s important that we are made aware of anything that could make our customers more vulnerable to these situations so that we can do all we can to protect them from fraud.
“Although we hadn’t been made aware of any such information at the time our customer was scammed, we have offered a full refund as it has since been provided.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity.
Around £1million a day – or £674 a minute – is stolen through APP — where customers are tricked into moving money into accounts controlled by criminals.
It’s seen people conned out of large amounts of cash and not seen a penny refunded, such as landscape gardener David Hunt who lost nearly £10,000 when scammers pretended to be from HMRC.
And grandmother Jo Wilson, who had her £40,000 life savings stolen by scammers posing as staff from NatWest.
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