A businesswoman has told how she was was cleared out of her life savings after falling victim to a scam. Dog trainer Millie from Sussex was already suffering from the financial implications of the coronavirus crisis when she was targeted in a sophisticated number spoofing plot.
During the pandemic, she got a text from what she thought was 02, her mobile provider. The message claimed they had not processed her latest bill and directed her to click the link provided to enter her details again.
As the 02 website the link directed her to seemed realistic, Millie went ahead and entered her personal details, as reported by the Daily Express. A few days later she received a phone call from who she thought was someone at the HSBC fraud team. They told her that someone had tried to take out a direct debit on her card.
In an aim to reassure her they were her bank, the scammers quoted Millie’s card number and personal details so she would believe it was actually an employee from the bank. She was further convinced as the number they called on matched the number on the back of her credit card.
The scammers convinced Millie that her account had been compromised and suggested that she move her money into a safe account to stop people trying to steal her money. They didn’t stop there, they also convinced her to transfer the funds from her business account into the safe account too.
Speaking on BBC programme Dirty Rotten Scammers, Millie said: “I had £500 in my business account which was the only money left really and that was what my clients had raised to keep the club afloat so we could pay our ongoing expenses as we had no income. They took that and I think about £22,500 in total in the end.”
Millie was oblivious to what had happened until she received a text from her bank that her account was overdrawn. She rang the bank immediately and began asking questions.
Millie continued: “They said, ‘it wasn’t us’ and then it clicked. I just burst into tears. I just sobbed and thought, ‘Oh no what am I going to do?’”
Millie had been cleared out and was penniless. She had to borrow money from her mum but due to social distancing it was hard. She added: “I had to go to mum’s house just to get cash so I can buy food and she couldn’t hug me. That was awful.
“I’m in her driveway sobbing and she can’t even hug me because of social distancing rules. It was quite traumatic because you couldn’t talk to anybody or see anyone.”
David Callington, head of fraud at HSBC, suggested some key things that Britons can do to avoid falling victim to this scam. He said: “If you’ve got concerns, just phone us back on the number at the back of the card.
“Leave it 10 minutes or phone back using a different number. If somebody is phoning you, and asking you to move money to a safe account, or asking you to give out a one time passcode to access your online banking or make an online payment, that’s not the bank.
“Hang up straight away. Banks will never do that.“
Dirty Rotten Scammers is available on BBC iPlayer.