Simoney Kyriakou  

Fraud victim? Too bad

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

Financial fraud used to be considered a 'victimless crime', because banks and financial companies would pay back the victim and equilibrium would be restored.

No longer.

Banks will not give your clients their full amount back. Some clients might get nothing at all.

Let me repeat that: if you or your client become a victim of fraud, and you inform the bank, you will go through the expected investigation process.

But in the majority of case outcomes I've seen this year, the answer will be: "Sorry, computer says 'no'. We offered enough scam warnings; it's your fault you transferred the money out. Therefore we cannot refund you."

Victims of authorised push payment and similar scams must now prove they were completely unaware of any scams out there; that they had no scam warnings from their banks while making the transfer; and that if they did, they were completely misled by the scammer into ignoring them.

All this, of course, is nigh impossible to prove.

Last year, FTAdviser reported on cases of victims who received their money back after contacting their banks.

I personally helped them with template letters from Which? and Citizens Advice, and told them how to compose letters to various banks' complaints departments.

Last year, banks were urged to show forbearance by the City watchdog. Perhaps this helped those victims get their full money back.

But now there is little to no forbearance. Banks are fighting back against fraud, not only by putting scam warnings everywhere – like gruesome pictures on a cigarette packet – but they also appear to have resurrected 'caveat emptor'.

Did you think caveat emptor was gone?

Nope, the old trope was just lying dormant, waiting for banks to shore up their balance sheets by reining back payouts to their clients. 

Over the past year, I have received dozens of emails from consumers who have been the victims of APP scams. I would say I get two or three a week.

Each time I have helped them compose letters, directed them to templates and information online, and guided their hands as they put together their complaints.

But recently I've had them returning to me, saying the banks have said no.

An 86-year-old widower tricked by a clever multiple-stage investment scam. A 72-year-old lady going through a divorce while caring for a relative, and falling for fraud while at a vulnerable time in her life.

A young woman frightened that her entire savings was being targeted. A man who had been a customer with HSBC for 18 years and found his Help-to-Buy Isa raided by thieves. 

All these have been victims of push scams – and have been told, more or less, that they ought to have known better. 

They were told "there were adequate warnings over transferring to new accounts". I've seen a warning screenshot. Yes, this is true.