'It was sheer panic, it was terrifying': Software consultant's horror after crooks steal £10,000 from his bank account
A South Tyneside software consultant has told of his horror at seeing £10,000 drained from his bank account by crooks.
Keith Humphreys, 51, who has now won his 16-month fight to force Metro Bank to repay the cash, said he was left terrified and in a blind panic as the scam took hold.
Mr Humphreys, of East Boldon, was powerless to stop the fraud which he watched unfold in real time on his banking app.
Metro Bank offered him just £50 in compensation but has repaid the full amount with interest after he took his case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
The married dad-of-two has now warned people to be wary of phone calls or text messages purporting to be from their banks.
He said: “It’s hard to explain how you feel because you are battling against something that’s not real, you have no control over it at all. It was sheer panic, it was terrifying, and it’s been hugely stressful.
“When I realised that I was being scammed, I looked on my mobile app and could see the money leaving my account. I felt ashamed that I’d fallen for it.
“I’d spoken to people I knew in the industry who said the bank had not acted fairly. I was always confident the ombudsman would rule in my favour.
“People should just delete any suspicious texts they get so that they don’t get tempted to dial the phone numbers attached. They should check their accounts and, if unsure, should call their banks.
“I wouldn’t wish this experience on anybody else, not even my worst enemy.”
Mr Humphreys’ ordeal began in January 2018 when he received a text purporting to come from Metro Bank's genuine phone number.
It told him his card had been used for a suspect £2,499 Amazon transaction – and urged him to contact its fraud prevention unit.
But the number he dialled belonged to fraudsters, who took him through security checks and elicited characters from his password and 12-digit security number.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
He was told his card would be blocked and that he would receive a text message with a cancellation authorisation code.
Unbeknown to him, he had handed the criminals access to his online banking – and they set about setting up new payees to transfer money to.
But his suspicions were aroused when he received a second text, requesting he confirm another new payee, leading him to alert the bank, which froze his account.
Metro Bank rejected his claim to have the money – which had been transferred to another of its accounts - repaid, leading him to contact the FOS.
At one point, he was told he could only reactivate his account in person at a Metro Bank branch, the nearest being almost 200 miles away in Peterborough.
Mr Humphreys claims the bank told him he had breached its terms and conditions by giving the fraudsters a one-time passcode.
Metro Bank refunded the money before the FOS launched an official inquiry.
A Metro Bank spokesperson said: “We understand and appreciate the stress caused by becoming a victim of fraud and are very sorry to hear about Mr Humphreys' case.
“We recently took the opportunity to undertake a further review of this case as we always want to do the right thing for our customers.
“As a result of this review and revisiting the facts available to us we offered a full refund and compensation to the customer.
“We take our customers' security extremely seriously and we have a range of safeguards in place to help defend them against fraud, which we constantly review and update in light of increasingly sophisticated tactics from fraudsters.
“We also continue to work closely with other stakeholders including banks, network operators and law enforcement agencies to protect customers from these crimes.”