Man shares ‘traumatic’ scam that left fraudsters stealing over £16,000

Man details how he was a victim of mobile banking fraud

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On BBC Money Box podcast, Dan Whitworth, journalist, explained an emerging fraud that could happen to anyone. Ed from the West Midlands explained his situation, and the challenges he faced getting his money back.

Ed had his phone stolen last year after he was mugged on a night out with some friends .

He said: “I was in London for August bank holiday and I’d been out for a friend’s birthday when my phone was forcibly stolen off me.

“From that point I scrambled to try and close my account down and freeze my iPhone.

“I was in a real state of shock and panic.”

Within hours, the thieves had accessed Ed’s banking app and stolen several thousands of pounds from his account.

They applied for a £11,000 loan using Ed’s phone at five in the morning and it was approved in just minutes – this money was taken too.

In total, Ed had over £16,000 stolen from him.

Ed continued: “For the next three months it was an absolute traumatic experience, it consumed my life.

“If I wasn’t on the phone for hours, I was writing emails and keeping records of what had gone on.”

Ed explained he a tough time getting his money back as the banks did not believe him initially.

He added: “It was truly a shocking experience. I felt terrible.”

Dr Jessica Barker, cyber security expert at Cygenta explained to Money Box these scammers can “shoulder surf” and observe people typing in PIN numbers into phones.

If they can steal people’s devices, they can unlock them and once that happens, sometimes people have the same passwords for their banking apps, or the password is stored in the notes section on their phone.

For individuals wanting to protect themselves against mobile phone fraud, she suggested at the very least, people should have a different password to unlock their phone and to log onto their mobile banking.

Additionally, she explained that if people can, they should use fingerprint or facial recognition as a way to get into phones instead of a pin.

She stated people should refrain from using their notes to store passwords and PIN numbers.

And lastly, people could remove banking apps from their phone and just use them on devices they keep at home.

If people do chose to remove banking apps from their phone, Paul Lewis, presenter of the podcast, explained people can still pay for things using their phone but there is no full access to bank accounts.

This could be a safer option than having bank account access.

UK Finance said: “This type of mobile phone fraud is not a regular appearance but the banking industry is not complacent about new and emerging threats.”

Episodes of BBC Money Box podcast are available on BBC Sounds.

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