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Bank "refuses to help" conned customers


Wednesday 15 October 2014

Bank "refuses to help" conned customers

A couple in their 80’s conned out of their savings by fraudsters have been told by their bank that it’s “not unusual” for elderly customers to drain their accounts of all their money.

NatWest have refused to take any responsibility after the couple – both 83 – lost their entire bank balance last month, even though a member of the bank’s staff pressed the button to authorise the transaction on their behalf.

When asked by the couple's daughter what action bank staff took to verify why the transfer was being made NatWest's replied: "As there were no warning signs of any unusual behaviour or activity, we would not rigorously question what appears to be a routine transaction."

The letter goes on to say: "Having completed my review, I am satisfied that the Bank has acted fairly and appropriately in this instance."

The family are so shocked by the reply from NatWest to their formal complaint they are now taking their case to the bank Ombudsman and the Jersey Financial Services Commission. They want the bank to take the blame for not raising any questions or taking any steps to protect them.

The couples' grand-daughter Katy Vawser-Ringsdore said: "I am completely baffled by the response from Natwest.  They are implying that the transaction to a fraudulent account didn't appear to be suspicious. Two 83-year-old pensioners who go into a branch and ask to clear their account of all funds into an account registered to someone else is clearly not a regular transaction.

"The branch also failed to ask at the time of the transaction what plans my grandparents would have in place to cover existing standing orders and direct debits. The bank has failed to protect my grandparents and I expect them to take responsibility for their actions. We are drafting a response to the bank and will be raising this with the ombudsman and the JFSC."

The couple were just one of a group of mainly elderly Islanders who were conned by fraudsters out of a total of £147,000. They all fell for the same sort of scam and were caught out by people pretending to be bank workers or police officers reporting dodgy card activity.

The police have been warning Islanders to remember that banks will never ask you to transfer money. They say you should never give your PIN or bank card details to any cold callers; if you are contacted by someone who asks for those details, hang up; and use a different phone to report the call to police or allow at least five minutes for your phone line to clear automatically.

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