CEL Solicitors have helped a great-grandmother get her money back after scammers targeted her and impersonated her bank in a multi-stage attack which saw her entire current account cleaned out.
Dorothy Baker received a call from scammers impersonating Covid-19 contact tracers. The swindlers told her that she had been exposed to someone who tested positive for covid-19 and that she needed to take a covid home test urgently as she may have been infected. The only thing they asked for was a small payment for the delivery fee.
After paying for the “postage”, the criminals then retargeted Dorothy using her newly supplied banking details.
According to Dorothy, “We were eating tea at around 5.30pm when I got a phone call. They said they were the HSBC fraud people. They said my bank account was at risk and they needed me to transfer my money.”
The criminals directed Dorothy to transfer the contents of her bank account to a “safe account” using a series of smaller payments which they claimed would help better secure her money. By the end of the scam call, the 81-year-old had lost £21,000.
“They sounded so professional […] I had to transfer multiple times. They were giving me different accounts to transfer the money into, and then the phone went dead.
“The next morning I got a phone call again. They said they would send me new account details with a new card and a new number. I was waiting for this card to come through and it never did.”
The bank refused to help get her money back
Looking for help on the matter, Dorothy visited her local HSBC branch for assistance where staff were able to track what had happened and inform Dorothy that she was unfortunately a victim of impersonation scammers.
“I went into the bank and they phoned the fraud squad while I was there. They said they would look into it, but then I got a letter saying it was my fault and I should have known.
“I told my husband we could forget the money because the bank had said it was my fault. He told me it wasn’t my fault really, I just trusted the person on the phone.
“I couldn’t understand why they [HSBC] didn’t phone me to say something was happening. They must have noticed.”
When it became clear that HSBC was no longer going to help, Dorothy and her husband contacted CEL Solicitors after their daughter heard an ad on the radio offering help to fraud victims.
We were able to challenge the decision by HSBC and return her lost money. HSBC was eventually able to recover just over £1,000 , and an additional £18,052 was awarded to Dorothy by the Financial Ombudsman Service, along with 8% interest.
When asked about her experience, Dorothy said “I couldn’t believe it. I felt so lucky to get the money back. I’ve definitely learnt a lesson from it. Now if I get any phone calls like that I just block them.”
Advice from CEL Solicitors’ Managing Director, Paul Hampson
“Unfortunately, frauds such as the one suffered by Dorothy are not uncommon.
“Criminals use sophisticated ways to convince people to part with their hard-earned money, which makes it even more distressing when victims discover the truth.
“In this case we were pleased to be able to recover the money from the Financial Ombudsman on the victim’s behalf.”