Sunday, October 1, 2023
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Swansea business owner targeted in phone bank scam was ‘seconds away from losing everything’

Swansea business owner was just seconds away from losing £20,000 after being targeted by a phone fraudster over the festive period.

Sian Cartledge, who runs Max Rocks graphic design, was relaxing with family when she had a call out of the blue – with the person on the other end claiming to be from her bank.

And after a highly convincing conversation, she came moments away from transferring the contents of her overdraft to the scammer.

“Because of the spirit of Christmas I trust him, he was so nice,” Sian told ITV Wales.

“He was forceful, but nice. So I just went along with it.

“He was so lovely and he was saying ‘sorry to bother you on Boxing Day, I know it’s not what you want to hear but your bank has been subject to fraud so I want to sort this out straight away’.”

The scammer told Sian that somebody had tried to make two large purchases from her HSBC business account before attempting to clear out her overdraft.

Sian continued: “They told me they needed to move all our funds to another account because our bank account was being compromised.

“Then when I got to my laptop and he was saying I needed to move everything that was in the overdraft and after he was going to put me through to a different department – I clicked.

“He told me I couldn’t pay my staff. So I tried to make a payment on my laptop while I was listening to him, which worked, and he told me my bank account had been locked down so obviously it wasn’t locked down.

“I just thought ‘oh my goodness’ so I asked him if he had a number I could phone him back on and he said no, but I’ll send a code to your business partner. I thought that was strange and you could hear the tone of his voice change as well.

“So I said do you think I’m stupid? And he said ‘no ma’am’ but really, he sounded angry. So then I realised and I hung up and phoned my bank. I was just one code away from losing £20,000.”

A HSBC UK spokesperson has said there’s no legitimate reason that their customers would be asked to move money to a ‘safe account’ by your bank.

“Protecting our customers from fraud is an absolute priority for us.

“Scammers are devious criminals who use a wide range of techniques and scenarios to steal money from you especially at busy times like Christmas.

“Sian did the right thing by terminating the call and contacting us to check.”

Sian urges others to err on the side of caution when taking calls similar to hers.

She said: “It makes me feel silly and vulnerable. I’m glad I had the sense to think at the end. If I hadn’t been as switched on I’d have done it I was literally a second away from giving them my money.

“It’s really made me feel sad about the world. It would have ruined me and us as a business, with five people losing their jobs, it’s awful.”


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