Readers who turned to my column on Boxing Day will have seen my review of the most common complaints I investigated in 2021. I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone that scams are at the top of my list. files. I warned that this trend is likely to continue in 2022.
So I start this year with your case, involving a nasty scam that I have never encountered before. I call it “friendly fraud”. It works like a romance fraud, a more common scam, but the authors keep the communications platonic.
Equally tricky, criminals go to great lengths to gain trust by asking personal questions to build a quick connection. They develop a believable backstory, supplemented by photographs to support it.
With romance scams, the connection usually starts through a dating site with the conversation quickly moved to social media such as WhatsApp. This keeps messages away from the protective eyes of websites, leaving no evidence of what will follow: The victim gets cheated of money.
Love scammers target those seeking love, but the network is expanding to include those who simply feel isolated during the pandemic.
It is not known how the woman from Hong Kong stumbled upon your WhatsApp account. However, her modus operandi followed the same path used by the amorous con artists, with the fraudster using social engineering to gain trust (you received photos of her walking her dog, which you later discovered to have been extracted. Asian model’s social media pages).
Soon after, the woman started bragging about her success in cryptocurrency trading – and suggested that you could emulate that. You were running out of money, but with a loan available, you were very vulnerable to his schemes.
I understand how nauseated and hopeless you must have felt when you realized how taken care of you had been.
I felt that the extent of the manipulation should have been taken more seriously by the TSB, so I asked the bank to reconsider its decision. After all, it is the bank that has the virtue of standing out from its competition with its own “fraud money back guarantee,” which promises to reimburse all customers who fall victim to push payment fraud.
He looked at the details again but told me he was adamant that because you had transferred money from your account to the MoonPay cryptocurrency platform before it came to the account of the scammer, you were not protected by its warranty. I was not impressed and recommended that you contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.
However, a few weeks later the bank had an unexpected turnaround and, I’m glad to say, decided that you were ultimately protected by their collateral. He reimbursed your £ 1,098.
A spokesperson said: “Fraud cases like this are invariably complex and it can be difficult to paint the full picture. When customers are the innocent victim of fraud, they are protected by our Fraud Money Back Guarantee. You were delighted and thanked me for my help.