A customer who used online banking and was the victim of computer hackers who took thousands of pounds from her account is now raising awareness on how to keep your cash safe from fraudsters.
Sarah Bull, 49, Main Street, Barton under Needwood, found herself without money to even buy food after all her cash appeared to have been withdrawn from her online accounts.
Disabled Miss Bull was so upset by her ordeal that her friend also phoned her bank, NatWest, claiming that she could die from the amount of stress she had been subjected to.
Miss Bull has now seen her money returned after a week but faced heartache as she struggled to live without cash.
Miss Bull said: "Someone had hacked my online account. The bank then issued them a credit card in my name and a debit card to have them posted to my address but the post was intercepted and £6,000 has been taken from my credit card, and £4,000 stolen from my current account. More than £6,000 was spent in jewellers, the credit cards say.
"I have never been overdrawn before. I have been a customer with NatWest for 35 years.
"By the time I realised what had happened they had £10,000 and left me with no money, housebound with disabilities, and unable to get any food. I had no funds at all and have been sobbing my heart out.
"It is absolutely inhuman. I have no family. I have one friend who lives 40 miles away. At one point my friend was on the phone to the bank saying with the level of stress I have I could die. Ten minutes later paramedics were on my doorsteps having been called by the bank. I couldn't believe it.
"I was complaining but wasn't getting anywhere."
She has now been fully refunded by NatWest.
A NatWest spokesman said: "We work hard to make sure our customers are kept safe and secure. We encourage customers to never share any of their personal details and to report any suspicious activity on their account as quickly as possible."
Miss Bull was a victim of a scam called 'account take over on her credit card' and another scam called 'bank online enrolment fraud' on her debit account. Where her debit card was concerned a new card was ordered by the fraudster who then intercepted her post to get hold of the cards.
Her concerns were echoed by businessman Mark Noble, of Burton Road, Swadlincote, whose three online accounts "disappeared". Following phone calls with his bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland, he went without cash for eight days before his accounts appeared again.
The bank said, unlike Miss Bull, he was not the victim of fraud and that full access to his accounts have now been restored after the problems.
He said: "Someone removed my bank accounts and business accounts with £14,000 in but couldn't tell me where my money is.
"I was about to lose my mortgage and bills come out on Friday and will not have been paid so I would have had bad credit straight away."
He also said his tiling business would have folded as he had no means of paying for materials hiring a car or even paying for the petrol.
He also said his company with a charity event coming up would have folded as he couldn't pay the upfront costs.
Debit and credit card fraud
What it is
When personal information is stolen from your debit, credit or store card, or the card itself is stolen, in order for money to be taken from your account or used to buy items in your name.
- Look after your cards – keep them with you everywhere you go. Never hand over a card, particularly if you’re paying using a contactless card machine.
- Be protective of your banking information . Either keep your statements, receipts and documents stored safely, or destroy them using a shredder.
- Sign new cards as soon as they arrive, and cut old cards through the magnetic strip and the chip once they’ve expired or been cancelled.
Spot the signs
- Your card is rejected when you try to pay with it or withdraw money, but you’re sure there were funds in your account last time you checked.
- You’ve spotted unusual activity on your bank statements, such as purchases you don’t remember making or cash withdrawals from places you don’t remember visiting.
- Your bank or the police will never get in touch to ask you for your PIN as a ‘security check’. If you get a call, text message or voicemail like this, don’t give away anything.
How it happens
Fraudsters use different techniques to find out the details on your card. They may make up an excuse to see your card when you’re using it to buy something or withdraw cash.
If someone knows the details of your card, such as the 16-digit number, expiry date and security code on the back, they can use the information to buy in your name. This is done by making ‘card not present’purchases, such as online shopping, when the seller doesn’t ask whoever’s buying for the actual card, just the information on it. Someone using your card’s information can have the goods delivered to them, but you pick up the cost.
Alternatively, they may use the information to create a counterfeit card, or clone the card by skimming the data held on the chip or magnetic strip.
Your card can also be vulnerable if you’re using it at a cash machine. Make sure you know how to protect yourself when you check your balance or make a withdrawal .
How to report it
Report it to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040.