Carol Duffy, 57, from Solihull, West Midlands, lost her life savings to a convincing phone scam – now her wedding, pension and home are at risk
Image: Birmingham Live)
A bride-to-be fears she will have to cancel her dream wedding after falling victim to a convincing phone scam that saw scammers steal nearly £12,000 of her life savings.
Carol Duffy, 57, said the scammer claimed to be from her bank when she was tricked into authorizing two “dummy payments” totaling £11,800.
The grandmother, from Solihull, West Midlands, now fears she will have to cancel her April 30 wedding to partner Martin Downes after her bank has refused to refund most of the money.
Carol claims the scammer told her the payments would help Halifax deter customers from becoming victims of fraudulent scams.
Carol told BirminghamLive: “I was devastated to realize what had happened. I was in tears.
“It was February 16. My partner was at work at Land Rover and received a call from a woman claiming to be from the bank saying someone was trying to withdraw money from his account.
“He couldn’t hear her properly, so he told her to call me.
“She told me she was from Halifax and said, ‘We need your full cooperation because someone is trying to take money out of people’s accounts, including yours, and we need to try to catch them.’
“I thought, ‘Okay, I can help people here’.
“She told me I needed to make two sham payments and explained I needed to call a Halifax number to authorize it.
“She said to give them the name she gave me and the account details and say the money is for my niece for a caravan.
“She sounded so professional that it was just so compelling. I thought I’d help the bank catch scammers.
“She said once the money was received I would get a call within the hour to confirm the money had been transferred back to my account.
“When I didn’t get the call, alarm bells started ringing.
“I called the bank and they told me I had been scammed.
“I was screaming and crying, I was devastated. I get sick just thinking about it.”
Carol added that the money was the product of her “life savings” and that she is now unable to pay her rent.
Phishing is a scam method that involves sending malicious links, emails, texts, and other forms of communication with a link attached.
Once the link is clicked, the scammers can access your personal information.
The City of London Police have provided the following advice for those wishing to avoid phishing.
Be aware and proactive: When replying to emails or phone calls, never give out your login credentials or personal information. If you receive an email from a company that claims to be legitimate but asks for those details or a contact number, let them know you will call them back. Use a contact number for the organization that you have reputably obtained. Talk to them directly to confirm the message is real
Use your spam filter: If you spot a phishing email, mark the message as spam and delete it. This ensures that the message cannot reach your inbox in the future.
know your source: Never reply to a message from an unknown source. Be careful not to click any embedded links. Phishing emails are sent to a large number of randomly generated addresses. However, clicking on embedded links may allow verification of your active email address. Once this happens, it can make it easier to target other malicious emails. Even “unsubscribe” links can be harmful. Make sure the email is from a trusted source and that you are actually subscribed to the service.
Not only could it throw their nuptials later this month off the cards, but the couple also relied on the funds to shore up their pensions.
Carol added: “That was my pension money and our wedding fund.
“We were planning to get married soon, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen now – we have a few payments left that we can’t afford right now and we now owe rent on our house.
“It was all our savings. It left me nothing, they took everything.”
Two weeks after she reported the scammers, Halifax refunded £823 of her original savings, Carol claims.
She says the partial refund was followed by a letter confirming the bank would not refund the rest of her money.
The correspondence states that Carol was the victim of a so-called Authorized Push Payment (APP).
The rogue APPs can be sophisticated and difficult to detect.
It said: “In order for us to return the money we need to know that you have attempted to confirm the person is who they say they are before making any payment to them.
“For example, you would have to have contacted us yourself using a phone number from your billing or debit card.”
Halifax said its fraud prevention systems blocked the first attempt to make a payment from the account after determining it was unusual.
A Halifax spokesman said Carol was briefed on the scammers’ tactics when a caller questioned her about the payment.
They said the questions were “unfortunately not answered truthfully.”
When the bank became aware of the fraud, Halifax said it immediately attempted to recover the money and was able to withdraw £823 from the recipient’s account.
A Halifax spokesman said: “Our priority is to protect our customers’ money and we have great sympathy for Ms Duffy as a victim of fraud.
“We thoroughly investigate each and every case and do everything we can to recover the money lost by a victim to scammers.
“Unfortunately, in this case, she authorized the payment, even though we blocked the original transaction and provided appropriate warnings about the risk of fraud.
According to official figures from Financial Fraud Action UK, the UK lost £2million a day to fraud last year.
Here are the top tips from Action Fraud, Get Safe, NordVPN, and Norton Antivirus to help people protect themselves:
The unwanted telephone advertising
Don’t assume that someone who called your phone or left you a voicemail message is who they say they are.
If a phone call or voicemail asks you to make an offer, make a payment, or sign up for an online account, be careful.
When you call back try using a different line as some scammers will keep the line open on their end to trick you.
When in doubt, verify it’s genuine by asking the company it claims to be you. Never call numbers or follow links in suspicious emails; Locate the official website or customer service number using a separate browser.
Protect yourself: Before you start shopping online, secure your device with antivirus software or a firewall. This helps block pop-ups and hackers.
Check the URL: Only use secure websites for purchases, never buy anything from a website that doesn’t have “https” at the beginning of the URL, and also look for the locked padlock icon at the bottom of the screen.
Is the deal too good to be true? Don’t be tempted by “bargains” from companies you don’t know, because if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Only buy from companies you know and trust: watch out for fake websites. You can see from the website’s URL that it may have a different spelling or a different domain name ending in .net or .org.
Shop from home: Using public Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those offered by coffee shops and libraries, could leave you vulnerable. When you don’t have to wait to get home, use your own 3G/4G network.
“Unfortunately, she did not take enough steps to verify that the call she received from the scammer was genuine.
“If a customer has any suspicion of activity on their account or, as is the case here, a received message or call, they should call us on the number on the back of their bank card or on our website.
“It’s important for people to be aware that their bank will never ask them to transfer money to another account.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bride-fears-wedding-cancelled-after-26620699 Bride-to-be fears wedding will be canceled after scammers saved £12,000