After moving into my new home last summer, I received a call on my landline from someone purporting to be from Virgin Media. This was not suspicious as Virgin Media had just set up my broadband and telephone service.
I was given my new phone number on the day of the set-up and, apart from Virgin, only my sister had the new number.
When I answered the call, I was addressed by my name and told my Virgin account had been hacked — and the company needed access to my computer to sort the problem out.
Confidence scam: A fraudster stole £7,000 from a pensioner’s bank account by posing as a worker from Virgin Media
They asked for debit card information and a copy of my driving licence.
Initially, I had no reason to doubt I was talking to a Virgin Media representative. A short while into the call, I realised I was being duped, but not before scammers had taken £7,000 from my NatWest bank account, moving money into accounts with online operations Revolut and Monese.
I contacted NatWest straight away and was refunded £1,000.
It told me to contact the two other companies and ask them to chase the rest of the money, but I got nowhere.
I am a pensioner on a fixed income and can’t afford to lose £6,000.
Name and address supplied.
Sally Hamilton replies: YOU told me the alarm bells rang when you started receiving emails from Revolut and Monese regarding online accounts which had been set up fraudulently in your name. You contacted them, asking each to return the money you had lost — £2,990 with Revolut and £3,000 with Monese — and to shut the accounts.
Monese confirmed the account closure but no reimbursement was forthcoming and after various attempts at making contact with Revolut, you were informed it could not return the missing money and to complain to the Financial Ombudsman if you were not satisfied.
NatWest would not reimburse any more than £1,000. Upon hearing your plight, I felt NatWest could have done more. On my request it agreed to re-open your case. Following its investigation, it concluded its stance had not changed.
It said it had no influence on the retrieval of the £6,000 transferred from your NatWest account to the online banks because the destination accounts were set up in your name.
It confirmed it was able to refund £1,000 because this sum had been paid by debit card directly to a scammer’s account.
NatWest added £100, it said, to make up for the shortfalls in the service you received when trying to report the fraud.
I did not think this was good enough as you were clearly a victim of a convincing fraud. I pressed again for the bank to do more to help you.
I also contacted Monese and Revolut. Monese’s press office didn’t respond to my requests. Revolut was more responsive and looked into the incident.
It concluded your complaint had not been handled as smoothly as it should have and awarded you a goodwill payment of £1,000 — but would not reimburse your losses as the account had been opened in your name.
So far, so unsatisfactory. After some pause for thought, I went back to NatWest to request a formal comment on your case.
My second approach was more fruitful. For, in the interim, NatWest had decided to carry out a further ‘careful’ review of the evidence in your ‘complex’ case.
It did not wish to elaborate further for fear of giving away information that could be used to fraudsters’ advantage but I am delighted to report this resulted in a different conclusion — a decision to reimburse you in full.
The bank has now credited your account with £5,990 — the £2,990 debit card payment to Revolut and £3,000 debit card payment to Monese. Although scarred by the experience and nervous of using your computer, email and phone, you are greatly relieved.
A NatWest spokesman says: ‘We acknowledge in this case the service received by our customer fell short of the high standards we expect and for this we apologise.
‘In all instances of frauds and scams, we will seek information from the victim to understand what has happened to enable us to reach a good outcome.’
NatWest told me to remind readers not to share bank details, debit card information or personal details over the phone. If individuals are asked for remote access to a personal device, refuse and hang up.
I can second that, though I am hugely sympathetic to anyone put on the spot like you. It is easy to fall into the trap — the same thing happened to a close relative recently with a scammer pretending to call from BT. Fortunately, my relation managed to stop payments being taken.
It can be hard to act rationally when pressure is being applied so slickly and with force. Whether the scammers knew you were a new customer of Virgin or made an educated guess, we will never know.
But for them it was a gift and it allowed them to ply their despicable trade with ease.
Straight to the point
I was offered a new TalkTalk contract for £25 for broadband and £8 for anytime UK calls in November.
However, my first bill was more than £60 as they had charged me for all my calls on top of the £25.
My bill for January was the same. I’ve now phoned them three times and they said it has been resolved but it has not.
C. E., Maidstone.
A Spokesman for TalkTalk says this was caused by a technical error. The company has now refunded all your call charges, reapplied your call boost and will provide the first three months free as a gesture of goodwill.
I bought a jacket from Mona.co.uk for £89 on September 16 but decided to return it the following day. I am still waiting for a refund. Please help.
L. R., Lisburn.
Mona.co.uk says that the delay was due to technical issues with its payment provider at the time your return was processed. It has since posted you a cheque.
My husband had a pendant with Careium — an alert system if he had a fall. He died in June 2021 but Careium has continued to send invoices every month in his name.
I’ve tried calling, sending letters and a copy of his death certificate but I still received an invoice for February. It’s very distressing.
M. C., Eastbourne.
Careium has now closed the account for your husband and called you to apologise for the distress this has caused.
Premium Bond app is driving me loopy
I have invested in Premium Bonds for many years, whenever I have a bit of spare money.
Since National Savings and Investments (NS&I) brought in two-factor authentication I have been unable to access my account.
I log on, using all the correct details, then I receive a one-time passcode on my phone, which I enter — but then I am taken back to the blank sign-in page.
This ‘loop’ happens every time and I can’t resolve it.
Name and address supplied.
Sally Hamilton replies: Government-backed NS&I introduced two-factor authentication last summer, something many financial organisations are doing to ensure customers’ money is better protected from fraudsters.
It usually involves supplying a password first and then perhaps a fingerprint or facial recognition —or, as in the case of NS&I, a one-time passcode to the customer’s phone which they then tap in to access their account.
But many customers are struggling to implement NS&I’s newest security arrangement.
Various technical issues are to blame, including the looping problem that led to your Groundhog Day nightmare.
Looping is when an online customer is returned to a screen they’ve previously seen as part of the NS&I two-factor authentication enrolment process and cannot go on to complete it.
I asked NS&I to step in and help stop your looping issue pronto.
It soon arranged a phone call to talk you through the process.
Finally, six months after your first attempt, you were able to get things working, use the new authentication arrangement and access your account.
An NS&I spokesman says: ‘We are sorry that some people may be experiencing difficulties which can be due to a number of different factors.’
NS&I says there are a number of reasons why looping might happen. These include computers not having enough memory, disruption from automatic security updates and the automatic deletion of cookies.
- Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email firstname.lastname@example.org — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.
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