Newcastle bar owner issues warning after scammers steal over £10,000 from him

Justin Loblack had £10,800 stolen when his bank account was targeted by fraudsters. Credit: NCJ MEDIA

A bar owner was scammed out of more than £10,000 by fraudsters pretending to be his bank.

Justin Loblack opened "The Mad House" bar on Pink Lane, Newcastle in December last year, where patrons can sit around a bathtub, bed and hob while they drink.

He had set aside £10,800 to cover running costs and pay staff wages but he was left heartbroken when it was stolen by fraudsters.

On 25 July Mr Loblack received a call from what he believed was Revolut Bank informing him that his account had been locked following a fraudulent transaction attempt.

He was told to go to a support website, covered in Revolut branding, where he believes the scammers were able to take control of his account after almost an hour on the phone.

Justin Loblack opened The Mad House in December 2022. Credit: NCJ MEDIA

"I did a number of bank validation checks where they listed a payment for a certain amount and I had to confirm it," Mr Loblack explained. "Looking back at it now, I think that was to make me build confidence in the scam.

"After that, they said, 'You will be receiving a link shortly which says 'pay refund.' We need you to provide these digits for us to unlock the code.'"

Mr Loblack started to suspect something was not right and asked to speak to a manager who carried out further security checks before taking the money from his account. To make matters worse the fraudsters called him back to laugh at his misfortune.

"I had so many other things to do that day - it was payday for the staff and I thought, 'I really can't afford to have my account locked,'" he said. "Then I saw the money leave the account."

"They said, 'That's weird there must be an issue at our end,' and then the line went dead. I was like, 'Oh my God, I just got duped. I think someone has just scammed me.'"But then they called me right back and I thought, 'Maybe not.' But then they started taking the [mick] and said 'You weren't very nice to our manager just now.'"

The scammers then revealed how they were in Thailand and had bought customer data online which enabled them to make thousands of pounds after they targeted other bank users.

"It's frightening," Justin said. "Especially with being a younger person you are more switched on than the older generation [for scams] and are more tech-savvy but then this is able to be done."

Mr Loblack contacted Revolut immediately after realising what had happened but was left disappointed by their response particularly as there was "no clear contact system in place" to verify it was the bank he was talking to.

The bank has since issued an apology and will reimburse 50% of the stolen funds.

A Revolut spokeswoman said: "Revolut takes the protection of its customers extremely seriously and is fully aware of the industry-wide risk of customers being coerced by organised criminals. We are very sorry to hear about Mr Loblack’s case, or any instance where our customers are targeted by ruthless and highly sophisticated criminals.

"Revolut would like to apologise to Mr Loblack for the distress caused in this case. As a gesture of goodwill, we will be covering 50% of the stolen funds.

"Revolut is deeply concerned that, as happened in this case, large numbers of frauds are being enabled across the industry by criminals using fake and spoofed phone calls. Banks and financial institutions are often the last link in the fraud chain - and so by the time customers are authorising the transfer, the fraud has already happened.

"If you are a Revolut customer and think you may have been a victim of fraud, freeze your cards immediately in the Revolut app and contact Revolut for help via the in-app chat."

Action Fraud is looking into Justin's case and said he would receive an email within six weeks explaining the next stages.

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