Sunday, October 1, 2023
HomeCyber CrimeBristol man loses £8,000 in banking app scam

Bristol man loses £8,000 in banking app scam

A business owner has issued a warning about the dangers of bank fraud, after he was scammed out of almost £8,000.

Marcus Gear said the caller was so convincing he was persuaded to use his banking app to hand over all the money he was relying on for his business.

“I had complete trust in this person. He was, in my eyes, controlling the app,” said Mr Gear.

His bank, Starling, said he was wrong to give out a code found in the app, but eventually refunded his money.

Last September Mr Gear, who owns an events company in Bristol, received a call from what he thought was his bank, telling him they suspected fraudulent transactions were being made on his account.

They said they would push the payments through the app for him to reject.

“One by one he told me the amount, to the penny, that was going to pop up on my phone,” Mr Gear explained.

He was then instructed to reject six more payments before he was told he would be helped to close his account and transfer all his money to a new one.

The caller asked him for a one-time payment code found in his app to approve the transfer.

£7,950 then left his account, leaving about £200.

Starling Bank said customers receive “fraud warnings and guidance throughout the app”, including a message that it would “never ask customers to share a one-time payment code”.

A spokesperson said they could tell Mr Gear had acknowledged previous warnings.

“I felt like an idiot,” Mr Gear continued. “But when it’s your money on the line and it’s happening at the time, some thought goes out the window and you think, ‘This person is trying to protect my money’.”

It is thought the fraudsters already had Mr Gear’s bank details, and by creating payment alerts they gained his trust, persuading him to hand over the code that then enabled them to transfer his money into their account.

Sense of urgency

Since Mr Gear made contact with the BBC, the bank has refunded the full amount.

Security expert Jason Hart said the first thing scammers “prey on” is the victim’s sense of urgency.

“They create a heightened moment to make you act in that moment in time,” he said.

He advised anyone who receives a call or message from a fraud team to call them back using the number found within the bank’s app or on their website.

“Please do not call them back via the number they’ve given you or a text you may have received,” he warned.

“I like to think I’m pretty switched on to these things,” said Mr Gear.

“But this one was so just so much more well thought-out and intellectual than any of the other attempts.”

Since speaking out on social media he found the same scam had happened to several people he knew, including another Starling customer.

The bank said Mr Gear was a victim of authorised push payment (APP) fraud.

“Starling works extremely hard to protect its customers from this type of fraud,” said the spokesperson, adding Mr Gear’s money was not initially refunded because he shared the one-time passcode.

UK Finance, the body that represents banks, said the industry was “tackling fraud on every front”.

A spokesperson said anyone who thinks they may have fallen for a scam must contact their bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud.


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