‘We are frightened to do anything’ Couple lose £20k after using fake NatWest card reader

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The couple, in their 70s, were horrified to discover to discover £20,000 had been taken from their savings without their knowledge. Scammers are targeting vulnerable victims with fake card readers.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute warned the rise of online banking had caused an increase in this type of fraud.

It said scammers would usually cold call households, providing enough personal details to convince the victim they are speaking with their bank, and then arrange for a fake card reader to be sent to their home.

The card reader will look similar to what is given out by many high street banks as a security measure when logging onto online banking.

But once a victim inserts their card into the machine, the fraudster is able to steal the account holder’s details.

Action Fraud, the police’s anti-fraud agency, said hundreds of people had lost their savings in the last year.

The couple wanted to remain anonymous but will go by ‘Stephen and Barbara Jenkins’. They were devastated to find out they had lost £20,000 earlier this year.

The couple had fallen victim to a fraudster claiming to be from NatWest, their bank.

The scammer called Mr and Mrs Jenkins multiple times and, once he had gained their trust, sent two card readers in the post, calling again to ensure they inserted their cards.

They realised too late that their account was being used to spend thousands of pounds at online retailers.

Ms Jenkins said: “We have no knowledge of technology and are frightened to do anything. We both feel very vulnerable.”

Britons are warned to remain vigilant when receiving unexpected calls from their bank just in case it’s a scam.

Scammers cold call their victims and claims to be from their bank. The criminal may already have some of the victim’s information.

After gaining the victim’s trust, the scammer sends a card reader to their home.

The criminal will call back once the card reader has been received to “walk through” the process.

Once the card is inserted the device can clone the chip and pin or even use the details to make a live transaction.

Experts have warned the scam relies on high pressure tactics to catch victims off guard.

There are different variants of the scam, some using online banking devices, whilst others use sim card readers or card payment technology, said Katherine Hart of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

She said: “We are aware of devices which read the ‘chip and pin’ on a card to harvest and clone its data and others where a live link is set up with the scammer and a transaction is taken out immediately.”

Ms Hart warned many people had been pushed towards online banking in recent years.

She continued: “Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods, especially amid the pressures and confusion of the cost of living crisis and in the aftermath of the pandemic, as all generations are having to become more reliant on technology and online services.

“So it’s not just the elderly at risk, young people are susceptible to this type of high pressure scam too.”

NatWest said card readers helped “protect customers from their details being stolen or compromised” but said “impersonation scams remain a significant problem across the banking industry.

The bank added: “We ask all customers to be extra vigilant when communicating with anyone who is asking them to give personal details, such as card number, account number or Pin.

“No bank staff member or police officer will ever ask you to move money out of your account.”

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