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72k in an text messaging banking scam. Fraud victims who have lost their life savings are being fobbed off by Santander in as little as 24 hours, Money Mail and This is Money can reveal. Customers who have lost thousands of pounds in sophisticated scams are being sent carbon-copy letters by the bank rejecting their requests for a refund. The documents all bear the same signature and use similar sentences to blame the customer for allowing a crook to get at their money. Some are identical apart from a few words. Nearly all of the letters we’ve seen fail to explain how customers — many of whom are traumatised — can complain, or point out that they can take their cases to the financial ombudsman, which settles disputes between banks and their customers.
The City watchdog usually forces banks to spell out these rights when they dismiss customers’ gripes. But Santander says that these rules don’t apply in these cases because customers are making ‘claims’ rather than ‘complaints’. Our findings call into question whether Santander is carrying out full investigations into fraud cases before sending rejection letters. We have alerted the City watchdog and provided evidence from our readers.
Two weeks ago, we raised serious concerns about fraud being committed on Santander accounts and sent a dossier of cases to the Financial Conduct Authority. Since then we have been deluged with emails, letters and calls from victims who have wept as they’ve described how they were duped. A loophole in Santander’s text message security system for online payments means criminals can steal thousands of pounds without the customer being warned about how much cash is leaving their account. The bank is embroiled in numerous disputes with customers who say they never saw or received vital codes that fraudsters supposedly used to raid their account. Victims as old as 88, one of whom cares for a husband with dementia, are being left without refunds even though Santander says it takes vulnerability into account.
The bank has been forced to change the alerts on its online banking payment pages to warn customers about the scams. 2 million a day is being lost to banking fraudsters, latest figures show. While all banks are being targeted, Money Mail and This is Money have seen a surge in complaints about the way Santander treats victims. Typically, customers are cold-called by a fraudster or sent a text message warning about fraud on their bank account and told to call a phone number. On the phone, a confidence trickster then lures the customers into logging into their online banking or divulging information allowing them to do so. The con artists pretend to work for reputable firms such as BT, Microsoft — and even Santander’s anti-fraud department. The crook hacks into the customer’s computer or dupes them into allowing remote access to their PC.
Fraudsters then need just a single text message code to siphon off thousands of pounds in dozens of bank transfers. You enter this code into your online banking page to sign off the payment. The text message gives details of the amount being transferred and the last four digits of the account number it’s going to. From then on, you don’t need a One Time Passcode to pay that person. Some customers are being tricked into handing these codes to criminals over the phone. But a loophole means crooks can get money without customers receiving a warning text saying how much cash they’re pinching.