NatWest releases details of most unbelievable scams to target customers in last year


NatWest releases details of most unbelievable scams to target customers in last year

NatWest has released details of some of the most audacious scams seen in the last year to remind everyone that scammers are going to increasing lengths to target customers.

Each of the cases presented in this article was brought to the attention of NatWest’s Community Protection Advisers (CPA’s). These anti-fraud specialists work with frontline employees and customers to proactively raise awareness of local scams and make sure these are dealt in the best possible way. They also react to referrals from the bank’s employees and take steps to safeguard customers and their funds, working with the police or trading standards where necessary. Since the role, which is unique to NatWest, launched in July 2015 the CPA’s has protected over £54m of customer money.

Laura Harris, Community Protection Adviser for London region, said: “Whilst some of these scams may seem far-fetched, fraudsters are unfortunately an everyday reality for some of our customers. They’ll use callous means to target anyone and everyone. My best advice is to question any situation where you’re unexpectedly being asked to part with money. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I’d encourage customers to come and talk to us in branch or on the phone if they need any advice.”

Details of some cases of scam have been released to show the length fraudsters will go to in order to get hold of customer’s cash. Here are some examples:

Clairvoyants

In this case one customer was regularly calling a clairvoyant who had seen a large windfall of £16m coming the way of our customer. All the customer had to do was keep talking to them on a daily basis and soon the cash would come his way. The only problem is that every time the customer called the clairvoyant, he was being charged £25 for the call. The customer spent over £2,800 on calls before NatWest stepped in.

 

Lotteries

A customer received a letter through the post telling her that she had won a large amount of money in the Australian Lottery. Even thought the letter came from a company based in the UK and the customer had never played the Australian Lottery she sent the company the small fee they requested in order to release her ‘winnings.’ The company continued to send her letters telling her that her winnings were increasing and that she needed to send further small sums to release them. In total, the customer sent over 40 cheques away (without receiving a penny) before the branch found out and intervened.



Scammers can impersonate anyone

One customer went to great lengths to avoid telling the bank what some large payments he was making were for. When quizzed by branch staff he told them that he was working closely with 3 men from the Financial Conduct Authority who were helping him recover funds from a previous investment scam that he had fallen victim to and who needed capital to start their case. The customer was told by NatWest, the Police and Trading Standards that this was another investment scam and that he shouldn’t send any money. They thought they had him convinced but just last week he was back in the branch trying to transfer them £5,000.  

 

Offers of compensation

Our customer got a phone call one evening that she thought was from Talk Talk. She was told that she was owed £500 compensation due to the phone network going down briefly the previous week. All she had to do was hand over her bank account details and they would credit her account with the compensation immediately. A few hours later ‘Talk Talk’ phoned her back to say they’d made a mistake and had accidentally credited her account with £5,000 and could she please transfer back £4,500. The caller claimed if the customer didn’t authorise the transfer immediately then they’ll end up losing her job. This kind of emotional manipulation often leads, as it did in this case, to the customer completing the transaction.

 

Alleged court cases

Having a timeshare abroad sounds dreamy but the reality can be anything but. One customers received a call from a company in Estonia who said they were undertaking a court case on behalf of the customer to win them back money from a timeshare. They asked for money to help fund the case which the customers sent. The company then went quiet and another, new company got in touch. This new company said they could retrieve the money sent to the old company for a small fee. Some customers have lost over £50,000 throwing good money after bad in a bid to try and claw back their initial outlay.

 

Cowboy builders

One customer was targeted by not one, but two cowboy builders. He was approached by a builder who told him he had noticed damage to his roof whilst fixing his neighbours. He told the customer a horror story of what would happen if he didn’t get it fixed and offered the customer a deal on repairs. It was only when the builder caused damage to the roof that the customer realised he had been scammed. A few days later, another builder (and accomplice of the original scammer) knocked on the customer’s door and told him he could fix the damage caused for a very low fee. He fixed the absolute minimum and made off with the money.  

 

Online dating

One customer met the love of her life online. He was a soldier on deployment in Afghanistan. They quickly became engaged and he promised that when he returned they’d move into his house in London. When he was suddenly injured on duty she was asked to transfer money to help out with medical fees. She obliged on several occasions and then never heard from him again. 

 

Bogus builders

Bogus builders are rife at the moment. One customer responded to a leaflet advertising handyman services. The customer was charged over £3,000 for work to clear her drains and tidy her garden – and they didn’t stop there. The rogue trader came back saying he had undercharged her and looking for more money. The customer paid. The trader returned twice more saying he was ‘short of cash’ and asking if the customer would lend money to him. She did, and is yet to be repaid.  

 

NatWest has also provided some advice to help educate and protect customers from even the most basic scams:

  • Don’t agree to sign a contract, hand over money or give out your bank details until you’ve spoken to someone you trust.
  • Never disclose your personal identification number (PIN) or let anyone persuade you to hand over your bank card or go to the bank to withdraw cash for a payment.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson to leave. If they refuse, call the police.
  • Don’t respond to any suspicious letters, even to say no. It simply encourages the fraudster to contact you again.
  • You can register to get your address removed from direct mailings through the Mailing Preference Service. You can also put a sign on your door saying ‘no junk mail.
  • You can raise any suspicions you may have by calling 0800 161 5153 or speaking to any member of staff in a NatWest branch.

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