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4 Jun 2021

'I lost my life savings to a scam. I reported it to my bank, but it hasn't responded'

Which? experts recover £16,000 for scam victim. Find out what you can do if your bank doesn't take action on a reported scam

Do you have an issue you need to put right? Which? is here to help get your consumer problems sorted.

Dear Which?

I've lost £16,000 of my life savings to a scam. I reported it to my bank, but I've heard nothing back.

The scammer called me and knew lots of details about my bank account and transaction history. They told me they'd seen unusual activity on my account and asked me to confirm some recent transactions.

At the time, I thought it was all normal because I'd had something similar happen a few years ago which was a genuine call from my bank, so I followed the scammer's instruction to move my savings to another account.

Shortly after the call I felt something was wrong and I contacted my bank, Lloyds. It confirmed to me this was a scam and that it would look into the matter.

It's been nearly two months since I lost the money and reported the scam and I've heard nothing back from my bank. It was my life savings and I just don't know what to do now. Can you help me?

David Burroughs, London

Put to rights

Lauren Deitz, consumer rights expert at Which?, says:

What a truly awful experience you've had, David.

I'm sorry to hear that you were targeted by such an egregious scam. To make matters worse you've been left in limbo waiting for a decision from your bank.

The scammer knew specific details about your account which makes it difficult for you to question the authenticity of the caller, especially when they warned you of unusual activity on your account, adding pressure for you to follow their advice to protect your savings - or so you thought.

Receiving calls like this is not uncommon and sadly many fall foul of these types of scams. It's good that alarm bells rang soon after the call and you contacted your bank directly to confirm the scam.

This type of scam is known as an authorised push payment (APP) or bank transfer scam.

Lloyds is signed up to the voluntary Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) Code, which is designed to help improve the reimbursement rates for victims of APP scams. Under this voluntary code, banks have three days to acknowledge receipt of a scam report and 15 days to investigate it.

Those 15 days came and went. So when you approached the Which? Money Helpline for advice we helped you form a complaint to your bank.

I'm pleased to hear that since complaining to Lloyds you have received the full £16,000 back, plus an additional sum to recognise that procedures weren't correctly followed.

We asked Lloyds about what happened and it told us:

'We have a great deal of sympathy for Mr Burroughs who was the victim of a scam and we fully investigate each case based on its individual circumstances. While customers are expected to take reasonable care when making payments, we also consider a number of other factors including the sophistication of the scam and the customer's personal circumstances. In this case, we believe we could have done more to help identify the payment as being unusual.

'Unfortunately, there was a delay in hearing back from the receiving bank whether any money remained in the fraudster's account. Once Mr Burroughs complained, we quickly reviewed his case and along with a full refund of the money lost to the fraudster, we have made a payment in recognition of the delay in hearing from us.'

Which? is calling for the voluntary code to be mandatory for all banks and for stronger enforcement to ensure all scam victims are treated fairly. We also want banks and payment providers to regularly report on reimbursement rates.

Need to know

Get in touch. If you've got a consumer rights problem you need put right, email us at yourstory@which.co.uk

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About Which? Money Helpline

Our members can give the Which? Money Helpline a call for guidance on everything from tax to travel insurance to scams.

The helpline is staffed by advisers with more than 100 years' experience in the financial services industry between them.

Since the helpline started in 2009, we've helped more than 190,000 people with their financial queries.

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