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Monday, October 18, 2021

‘I answered a call from my bank – it cost me £24,000’

A fraud victim who lost more than £24,000 to a scammer has called on banks to warn customers about “spoofed” phone numbers after he had to appeal to the Ombudsman to receive compensation.

Brian Silvester, 69, a parish councilor from Crewe, was called by a fraudster who changed their caller ID to mimic his provider Nationwide. They pretended to be from the building society and even told him to check the number against the advertised phone line.

“I didn’t realise that they could clone these numbers,” he said. “When they first rang me and said, this is Nationwide, we need to take action urgently. First of all, you need to check that this is actually Nationwide. Just check the number on the internet.”

As well as being comforted by the matching phone number, Mr Silvester was thrown by the amount the scammer knew about him.

Mr Silvester says Nationwide and banks in general should do a better job of warning customers about spoof calls and face repaying customers if they fail.

“Every communication they send out they should send a note out with it saying ‘please be aware that the Nationwide number can be cloned’, but they don’t.”

Soften the target

He was told by the fraudster that criminals had tried to withdraw £46,000 from two local Nationwide branches and had forged his signature but the story had been invented to scare and soften him up for the next stage of the con.

Mr Silvester was then asked to move more than £24,000 to another account for “safe keeping”. However, this was controlled by the scammer. He was even offered Tesco vouchers for the inconvenience.

Such so-called safe account scams makes use of holes in bank security as the victim actively sends money to a scammer after being deceived. Banks have made this type of scam harder by showing customers if account details do not match but this was not available when Mr Silvester was conned in 2018.

Nationwide refused to refund him but the Financial Ombudsman found in his favour and ordered the building society to repay with interest.

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