By Kris Jepson
A Teesside pensioner has warned others about the dangers of online and phone bank fraud after losing £12,000 in a scam.
Penny Birks, 77, from Linthorpe in Middlesbrough, told ITV News Tyne Tees she is "absolutely devastated" at losing her life savings and says she wants to raise awareness about the issue to prevent it happening to anybody else.
Watch @krisjepson's report here:
When Penny Birks opened an email, which looked like it was from her bank, NatWest, she had no idea it had corrupted her laptop with a virus.
Days later she received a phone call from a "well-spoken" man, who purported to be from the bank's anti-fraud team. He claimed that he had seen "irregularities" in her current account and asked her to answer some security questions to continue the conversation.
The man allegedly asked for her card details so he could move her money to a new account to protect it and told her to meet a "Susan Henry" at her local branch in Middlesbrough.
When she arrived at the bank, the staff told her no such person worked there and they put her in touch with their actual anti-fraud team. She then realised £12,000 of her life savings had been stolen.
The bank told ITV News that they cannot refund Mrs Birks the money, because “she explicitly authorised the payment from her account”.
Last year bank users were defrauded of more than £127m through online and phone banking scams, according to Financial Fraud Action UK.
DEBIT AND CREDIT CARD FRAUD, 2017
- 1,874,002 cases
- £566 million in losses
- 8 per cent decline from 2016
INTERNET BANKING FRAUD, 2017
- 21,784 cases
- £121.4 million in losses
- 19 per cent increase from 2016
MOBILE BANKING FRAUD, 2017
- 3,384 cases
- £6.3 million in losses
- 10 per cent rise from 2016
- Only 25 per cent of these losses could be recovered
Cleveland Police Detective Sergeant Andrew King has urged people to be vigilant over these types of scams. He told ITV News "The banks will never ask for your pin. They will never ask for your password. They will never ask to transfer money from one account to another and I would ask the public to stop, think, don’t jump in, put the phone down".