Merrick Anderson lost almost £25,000 through an authorised push payment fraud in March.
The university fellow, who moved to the UK late last year, was called by a scammer posing as a member of the Lloyds Bank fraud department, who told him that the account he held there had been compromised.
His is just one of more than 100,000 cases of this type of fraud to be reported in the first half of the year, according to figures from UK Finance.
“They appeared to be calling from a Lloyds number and had very detailed information about my account, including my last expense (something I had even forgotten),” he says.
“I have no idea how they got all this information … After convincing me they were part of Lloyds’ fraud team, they told me that my account had been compromised and I had to transfer my funds to a new account in order to keep them safe.
“Not being from the UK, I was not aware that banks typically don’t contact people about fraud and never ask them to transfer their funds to a new account.”
The new account was, in fact, one held at Barclays. Before the call ended, Anderson had been persuaded to make two transfers, adding up to about £24,900.
Within an hour he had called Lloyds and alerted it to the fraud. He was told the bank would investigate and attempt to recover the money. However, when he eventually heard back, it was bad news: only £2 had been recovered from Barclays and the rest was gone.
After involving his MP, Lloyds agreed to return just over £5,000 – half of his second transfer – but he is still out of pocket and feels his bank did not do enough to stop the fraud and handled his case badly. He is taking his case to the financial ombudsman.
Lloyds at first refused to refund any of Anderson’s money, saying he had ignored a warning about scams – something he says he did not see. While it has returned half of the second transfer, saying that both the bank and Anderson had not taken the required level of care against fraud under the banks’ voluntary APP code, it is refusing to repay the value of the first payment.
A spokesperson for Lloyds Bank said: “Helping to keep our customers’ money safe is our priority and we have a great deal of sympathy for Mr Anderson, who was the victim of a safe account scam where fraudsters convinced him to transfer cash to an account with another bank.
“We fully investigate each case and although Mr Anderson proceeded past the warnings provided and authorised the payments, we could have stopped the second payment and asked more questions, which may have identified the scam earlier.
“We reviewed his case and refunded half of the money he lost in line with the voluntary industry code, and have made a payment of £200 in recognition of the delay in keeping him updated.”
The spokesperson added: “It’s important to treat every email, message or call that you’re not expecting with caution, avoid clicking on links asking for your bank details, and pay close attention to any warnings when banking online. Your bank or a genuine company will never ask you to move money to a different account – if anyone does, it’s definitely a scam, no matter how genuine it may appear.”