Scammers impersonating Lloyds Bank and City watchdog, the FCA, convinced their scam victim to transfer her savings into a fraudulent account.
Through emails, post and phone calls, Alice was falsely informed of corrupt staff at the bank attempting to steal her funds. She was then convinced to ignore any warnings from her bank throughout the process that she believed would secure her account.
To add legitimacy to the scam, one of the fraudsters rang Alice pretending to be an official from the FCA. When Alice asked for verification of the identity of the caller, the scammer was able to direct her to the phone number on the FCA website which matched the number they were calling from.
Impersonation scams are becoming more sophisticated, with modern technology allowing scammers to seem as if they are calling from the legitimate number of an organisation, in a process known as ‘number spoofing’. The scammers then went on to send Alice documents in the post with the FCA logo which again all appeared legitimate.
To warn others about becoming similar victims, Alice has recently appeared on BBC One’s Rip Off Britain programme.
As the UK sees a significant rise in cybercrime, APP scams too are becoming more common. These types of scams involve the victim transferring money to what they believe is a genuine payee or approving fraudulent transactions that seem genuine.
APP scams are ultimately set up to coax victims into willingly transferring sums of money to a second account. After the transfer, the money is moved on quickly, typically overseas to make tracking and recovery very difficult.
In this case, as part of the APP scam, Alice was encouraged to visit her local bank and transfer her savings into a ‘safe account’, unknowingly owned by the scammers.
It is the role of UK banks to protect customers from APP fraud; therefore, staff suspicious of the transfer withheld the payment and called the police. However, the fraudsters were able to successfully work their way around the bank’s security measures and encouraged Alice to instead make daily transfers of £25,000 to the ‘safe account’ over a period of 3 weeks.
Alice only realised she had been scammed when her son was able to identify a fake email address used by one of the fraudsters. Unfortunately, by then, the payment had already been made and Alice’s savings had been invested into Bitcoin by the fraudsters and could not be traced.
If you, your business, or someone you know has fallen victim to an impersonation APP scam, the first thing you should do is report the scam to the police, Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, and also your bank.
However, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming the victim of such scams in the first place:
- Shred paper documents containing sensitive details such as your name, address, bank details or other financial information before disposing of them.
- Do not share your security details, full passwords, login details or bank account numbers with unsolicited callers or via email – even if they are claiming to be from your bank.
- If you have concerns about the legitimacy of a phone call from your ‘bank’, even if the number is correct, hang up and use another phone to call the number printed on the back of your bank card or bank statement.
Commenting on Alice Allen’s case, Head of TLW Solicitors’ Fraud and Scam team Sarah Spruce, said:
“This worrying case just goes to show the significant lengths the scammers are prepared to go to in convincing their victims to hand over their money. They deploy a series of detailed tactics such as using spoof phone numbers, fake but convincing documents, all against a backdrop or urgency and pressure – forcing the victim to make quick decisions without thinking them through or having the chance to get proper advice or even to just trust their gut instinct that something is wrong.
To protect yourselves, loved ones or your business from similar scams, always be aware that neither the banks or the FCA would ever ask account holders to transfer money into a separate account or a ‘safe’ account.”
Have you, your business or someone you know fallen victim to an APP scam?
Get in touch with our specialist APP fraud team to help you make a compensation claim to recover your losses. With years of experience, we understand the complexities involved in putting forward a refund application and recognise the strict time scales to be adhered to. We’ll also ensure to regularly keep you updated as we progress with your case.
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