After Falling Victim To Scams Twice, Angela Spent Months Chasing Her Bank
One mother lost over £40,000 after falling victim to a ‘Hi mum’ scam. She lost this amount in two separate bank scams this year.
In January Angela Fitzwater got a message from someone who she thought was her son.
“Hi mum. I smashed my phone. This is my temporary number,” it read.
The person told Ms Fitzwater it was her son, and that he had smashed his phone so couldn’t speak- however, he urgently needed $3,000 (around £2,500) to pay a bill.
Her ‘son’ reassured her that he would pay her back once he could access his account through his phone again.
Thinking her son Alex was caught in some trouble, Mrs Fitzwater transferred $10,000 (around £8,000) before she realised something was wrong.
Ms Fitzwater explained her situation to reporter Madeleine Morris at ABC News Australia. The 83-year-old said she called her bank immediately after she knew something was up to alert them that she had just been scammed and that they should stop the payments going through, however, the bank was slow to act.
She called them about 12 times, but they were not able to provide any solutions.
Three months later, she received an email from her bank stating they cannot take any liability for her loss as she authorised the transactions.
Ms Fitzwater said: “The bottom line is the bank just doesn’t give a damn, they don’t care.”
A month later, Ms Fitzwater received a random call from who she thought was her bank’s fraud department.
After having a hard time with them before, she thought they were attempting to rectify the issue and help her get her money back.
The scammers pretended to be the employees and tricked her into sharing her security details.
The scammers swiftly transferred $40,000 (around £30,000) from her savings account into her transaction account and then bought $16,000 (around £12,500) worth of cryptocurrency in smaller transactions.
But her bank did not alert her of these transactions. She only found out when her card was declined at the shop that money had been taken out.
Her bank has since refunded her half of the cryptocurrency transactions but not the earlier payments she had made. In total, she lost around £44,000.
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Angela’s son said: “Most mornings I’d say, ‘how did you sleep, mum?’ And she said, ‘I didn’t get to sleep until four, just lying awake, thinking what can I do? How can I get it back?’ It just left her with a loss of trust and faith in the world in general as the process has dragged on.”
The latest statistics from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and Action Fraud showed there were 414 reports of the ‘hi mum hi dad’ scam in the first five months of 2023, costing victims £467,208. According to the data, victims have lost £1.7million since the beginning of 2022.
UK Finance said the scam would often begin via text message before scammers ask to switch to WhatsApp, an encrypted platform.
Some banks, including HSBC and Halifax, warn consumers about the WhatsApp impersonation scam when they log into their online banking apps.
Action Fraud warns: “Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials.
“Many frauds start with a phishing email/ text. Remember that banks and financial institutions will not send you a message asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details.
“You can always call your bank using the phone number on a genuine piece of correspondence, website (typed directly into the address bar) or the phone book to check if you’re not sure.
If someone receives a suspicious text message, they can report it by forwarding it to 7726 before blocking the number.
If they’re concerned they’ve given money to a possible scam, “contact your bank straight away” and report the scam to Action Fraud.
People can report scam messages on WhatsApp by opening up the WhatsApp chat with the unknown number and selecting Block and Report.
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