Banking theft/fraud BarnieBoy

#1
An elderly relative has had his life savings stolen from his Halifax and Barclays accounts.



He received a phone call saying they were from Barclays and that his account was being looked at fraudulently. They advised him to move his money into a secure holding account whilst they investigated this. He doesnÂ’t do online banking, so they told him he had to go to the bank. To support him they said that they would stay on the line whilst he did this; but as it was the bank itself that was under suspicion he wasn't to alert anyone in the bank.

He was ill at the time with a chest infection but went in his car to the Barclays and moved £5K into the account that they told him to.

They asked if he had any other savings account and he told them of a Halifax account; they said they 'would look at that now' and not surprisingly they advised him that this too was being hacked and said he was best to move this money too. As it was more than the single transaction limit he had to go in twice and move 2 lots of £5K into 2 separate accounts, different to the one he moved the Barclays money into. After the first transaction at the Halifax, he was instructed to walk around the block and then go back in for the second transaction.

He was on the phone for about 90 minutes in total driving into 2 different towns to do as he was advised.

I'm not sure when he realised that something was wrong as he is so distressed about it he doesn't want to answer too many of my questions.

He did however alert both Barclays and Halifax the same day but was told that they couldn't do anything as the money had already been moved out of the accounts into which he had transferred it.

Unfortunately he didn't tell anyone else about it for 2 days; he was distressed, shocked and embarrassed.

When he did finally tell us I alerted the police who have been to see him several times and have been great.

Another relative went with him to both Barclays and Halifax where he made full statements and they said they would investigate.

Barclays are still investigating this and have yet to come to a conclusion.

Halifax wrote to him and said that as the teller had acted within policy they would not be refunding any money.

The relative who went with him to the Halifax raised a complaint by following their procedure of completing a very basic form online. He was then contacted by phone to discuss it further, having received permission from the account holder to do so. The person he spoke to was unprofessional to the point of being rude and ended the call by saying "I can tell you we will be paying nothing!".

This morning they have sent a letter to our uncle which says that my uncle has requested a refund because he has been a loyal customer for many years and whilst they appreciate his loyalty they 'cannot agree to give you a refund' but if he has any queries or further information which may change their decision please feel free to contact them.

He is complaining that banking procedures do not seem to protect customers, particularly old vulnerable customers, against this type of activity. (This account has mainly been dormant for many years, he occasionally withdraws the interest.)

He is complaining that he was not made aware by either bank at the time of the transfer that this may have been fraud.

He is also complaining that the Halifax is making no efforts to recover the money.

All of these complaints were discussed on the phone yet the decision letter only makes reference to the loyalty issue, which was very much secondary.



The investigating detective with the police has been very confident from the beginning that he ought to receive a full refund. Because of the details my uncle was able to give they have tracked down the gang responsible and whilst no arrests have yet been made the gang are under surveillance and the police have told him that arrests are imminent. As his evidence is crucial he may be requested to appear as a witness.



Thank you for reading this so far...



My big question is where do we go next...

The Halifax say that procedures and policy was followed, but what are they and can we get a copy?



Does anyone have any advice about key words or phrases that we ought to include in our next letter of complaint to the Halifax?



Do you think it is worth pursuing this again with the Halifax or is it time to go to the Ombudsman and if so, what would be the likely outcome from the ombudsman?

Should we take legal advice? (bearing in mind our uncle can no longer afford to pay legal fees now his savings have been stolen)



Please do you have any advice?



Many thanks

#2
My understanding is that in Lloyds (and therefore in Halifax as they use the same system) the cashier reads out a paragraph saying there are a lot of scams about etc etc.

If the customer states that it is not a scam there is nothing they can do unless they suspect there is duress. Very difficult to prove.

#3
The banks have done nothing wrong, your relative instructed them to transfer the funds and they followed his wishes.

Unfortunately this is a well known scam.

You can't say Halifax have made no effort to try to recover the funds they will have done the same as Barclays which is to contact the bank where the funds have been sent to try to recover them, these would have been transferred out or withdrawn straight away to prevent recovery but the accounts would have been closed as soon as it became known they are linked with fraud.

It's very easy for the police to say something as it's not them or there procedures refunding the money, just like bank staff shouldn't say don't worry the police will get it back - how would they know.

Your only hope is that the police arrest, charge and recover the funds but I would guess that the funds are no longer in the U.K. so they will be powerless to act.

I will try to post some further links later on when back home.

#4
http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zxq8frd



Callers claiming to be from the police, banks or other trusted organisations can aim to panic you into transferring money into their accounts, sending them your bank cards or giving away PINs or passwords. Other scam calls can come from people pretending to be computer engineers, investment managers etc.

Tip: Do not engage with cold callers. Never reveal your PINs, passwords or memorable information, including by tapping them into your telephone keypad. Don’t trust someone just because they know a lot about you – scammers do their homework.

#5
The bad news is that your relatives' bank(s) did nothing wrong - in fact they would have been in trouble had the NOT followed the account holder's instructions.





There may be some hope though - if the account the money was transferred to was opened fraudulently then there has been a couple of articles recently about complaining to/suing the receiving bank for not taking enough care in opening the fraudster's account. You could persue this route (I believe the first step was to get details of the receiving account from the police). Can't remember the exact articles (they were recent) but maybe someone else will know.

#6



There may be some hope though - if the account the money was transferred to was opened fraudulently then there has been a couple of articles recently about complaining to/suing the receiving bank for not taking enough care in opening the fraudster's account. You could persue this route (I believe the first step was to get details of the receiving account from the police). Can't remember the exact articles (they were recent) but maybe someone else will know.
Originally posted by mt99


It's vanishingly unlikely to succeed, however, and FOS have rejected numerous complaints (at the ombudsman and adjudicator stages) along these lines, for the reason that it is unfair to expect a party which has done nothing wrong to reimburse a loss that it didn't cause and couldn't foresee. Banks' responsibilities generally begin and end with correctly identifying new customers and processing payments to their accounts correctly; they are not required to be able to see the future (especially since many such "mule" accounts are opened in the name of a real person by that person, and fraudsters generally try to blend in with normal customers, making them incredibly hard to spot).



The responsibility for the fraud lies with the conman and, sad to say, the defrauded for following the conman's instructions. It does not lie with any of the banks concerned. This may not be "nice" but if the logic behind such a complaint were true then, given that as mentioned a lot of the people opening mule accounts do so using correct information and their real identities, banks would be potentially open to civil liability for the actions of anyone who they happened to open an account for.

#7
Thank you for your replies.

I guess our only hope may be if jonesMUFCforever is correct as nothing was read out to him. But how do we prove that?



Does anyone know if they ought to have read something like this out to him?



Thank you

#8



It's vanishingly unlikely to succeed, however, and FOS have rejected numerous complaints (at the ombudsman and adjudicator stages) along these lines, for the reason that it is unfair to expect a party which has done nothing wrong to reimburse a loss that it didn't cause and couldn't foresee. Banks' responsibilities generally begin and end with correctly identifying new customers and processing payments to their accounts correctly; they are not required to be able to see the future (especially since many such "mule" accounts are opened in the name of a real person by that person, and fraudsters generally try to blend in with normal customers, making them incredibly hard to spot).
Originally posted by JuicyJesus


I don't understand this. If a 'mule' account is opened by the fraudster on his name, then why would the fraudster do this as he would be 100% identified and caught?

If the account is opened by the fraudster on some other person's name, then clearly it's the bank's fault and they failed to "correctly identify the new customer". The fact that it's 'hard'/impossible to do this remotely doesn't change anything. If you can't do this remotely with sufficient reliability, don't do this remotely then and insist on a personal visit to a branch with sufficient proofs of ID. This is the only way of opening a new account in many countries.



Without 'mule' accounts with untraceable owners this fraud will die very fast.

#9



Does anyone know if they ought to have read something like this out to him?
Originally posted by BarnieBoy


A few years ago I paid off my C&G mortgage and had transferred the funds online to my Lloyds account to do it. Even though I never physically saw the cash and I was effectively transferring between two Lloyds products in branch, because of the amount of money involved I was asked if I was under duress or if anyone had forced me to make the transfer. I doubt that this is a legal necessity but it may be a part of the banks voluntary code

#10



I don't understand this. If a 'mule' account is opened by the fraudster on his name, then why would the fraudster do this as he would be 100% identified and caught?
Originally posted by grumbler


Because he's stupid and desperate for money, someone told him he would get a cut and therefore used either his own account or opened a brand new one in order to "facilitate payments" or some other bibble.






If the account is opened by the fraudster on some other person's name, then clearly it's the bank's fault and they failed to "correctly identify the new customer".


It doesn't make them responsible for the subsequent actions of the fraudster. If I steal your car it doesn't mean it's your fault if I run over a granny crossing the road in it.






The fact that it's 'hard'/impossible to do this remotely doesn't change anything. If you can't do this remotely with sufficient reliability, don't do this remotely then and insist on a personal visit to a branch with sufficient proofs of ID. This is an only way of opening a new account in many countries.


Cue whinging and whining from everyone in the country. It gets bad enough hearing people on this forum moaning about it.






Without 'mule' accounts with untraceable owners this fraud will die very fast.


Except in most cases the owners are traceable. What is needed is scam awareness.

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