Lloyds Bank customer left ‘gut-punched’ after handing over £153,000

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On BBC Money Box, Adam called in to explain how his father fell victim to this growing scam. The team at Money Box helped Adam and his father James recover £150,000 from his bank which had initially refused to refund him.

Whilst James was caring for his dying wife, he was targeted, groomed and tricked into sending £153,000 to a scammer.

The transactions were made in dozens of large payments to a scammer purporting to be a woman in America who was the victim of domestic abuse and had large medical bills. But none of this was true.

When Adam found out what his dad had been doing, he called the police, Action Fraud and Lloyds, their bank, straight away.

Unfortunately, Adam was told that James would not be able to get his money back as it was stolen by a criminal overseas meaning there was no regulation.

The victim’s family were told that a voluntary code, known as the Contingent Reimbursement Model or CRM, designed to protect victims of fraud would not apply in their case, because the payments had been made to an international bank account.

Adam said: “Upon getting the news from Lloyds the next day I felt gut-punched, I felt sick.

“All this money had gone and there was no way to get it back, there’s no cover. Fraud is fraud. If British pounds were taken, why should it matter where the money goes?

“I just couldn’t fathom why there was such a difference on whether the money is offshored or in the UK.”

Money Box found that the CRM code does not cover victims if criminals use foreign bank accounts to steal money.

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Despite Lloyds putting safety measures in place to protect James, he still went ahead to make the transactions to the criminals.

Lloyds Bank had blocked several suspicious transactions and warned James that things did not look right.

They even called him into his local branch to warn him to his face, but the criminal was too persuasive and James felt he was doing the right thing by helping the woman, although it was actually a scam.

Adam did agree that there was not much else Lloyds could have done to prevent the fraud, however, he believes there should be no loopholes within the code, which can stop vulnerable people from getting their money back.

Even though James’ case was not conducted under the code, Lloyds conducted a further review and were able to issue a full refund.

Adam said: “It was a huge relief off my shoulders. I felt a huge sense of responsibility to get a good result as he is in ill health and the relief was indescribable.”

Due to the complexities of the case, and James’ situation and vulnerability at the time, the bank was able to issue him a refund.

Worryingly, according to new research from Lloyds Bank, romance scams increased by 30 percent last year, and victims lost £8,234 on average, slightly less than last year, which saw victims losing around 8,655.

The data shows that men now make up the majority of reported cases at 53 percent. The South East of England was a particular hot spot, as relative to population size, the number of victims was around 15 percent higher than the national average.

Today, individuals between 65 and 74 were the most likely to be scammed into sending money to fraudsters. They lost just over £12,000 on average according to the research.

On their website, it states: “As a rule of thumb, we strongly discourage anyone from transferring money to someone they have not met in person.

“After all, there’re no limits to the depths a scammer would sink to get what they want; if they sense a chance to pull on your heartstrings with excuses such as family issues, business problems or even medical bills, they won’t hesitate – especially if they know these issues are close to your heart.

“Naturally, we also advise that customers never share their banking details online. And should you be asked to transfer money quickly, take time to step back and examine the situation?

“If the person asking for the cash were truly someone you could trust, they wouldn’t attempt to rush you into transferring any money – no matter how small the sum. Perhaps let a trusted friend know what’s going on, and seek their advice.”

Express has contacted Lloyds Bank for comment.

Episodes of Money Box are available on BBC Sounds.

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