THE victim of a telephone scam has told how he lost life savings worth £10,000 in a five minute call.
Fred Wood, 58, fell prey to fraudsters masquerading as operators from Royal Bank of Scotland who rinsed his account in a sophisticated telephone scam – one of a wave of so-called ‘vishing’ attacks in the Lothians.
A former factory worker who is currently unemployed, Mr Wood had been forced to cash in the remainder of his savings – around £800 – to make ends meet and says he has suffered “two months of sleepless nights” since the con.
He was duped by a man claiming to be from the fraud department of RBS who warned of irregular activity on his account and urged him to contact the bank via a telephone number on his debit card.
But the scam artists failed to clear the line and Mr Wood unwittingly handed over his bank account details.
“I dialled the number and a woman answered who said: ‘Oh yes, we’ve heard about this before’”, said Mr Wood, who lives in Marchmont.
“She was very convincing.”
He was told to expect a confirmation phone call from the bank the following day. But when this failed to materialise he contacted the bank.
“I phoned up the same number, and I got through to an automated menu system,” he said. “As soon as I heard that, I knew something was wrong.
“I’ve lost quite a lot of money, and I can’t afford it. All the money I lost was effectively my savings so I could survive until I got another job.”
Mr Wood is uncertain whether RBS will reimburse him for the money taken but a spokesman for the bank insisted an investigation is underway.
Experts at Financial Fraud Action UK stressed that banks generally refunded victims only if they could recover the money from fraudsters. And they said if customers felt they had been treated unfairly by their bank they should contact the Financial Ombudsman.
Mr Wood has waited two months to discover whether he will see any of his money again.
“I feel really unhappy, and a bit stupid,” he said. “When you go back through it in your mind, you realise that the fake security measures you go through with these people are almost exactly the same as the bank’s but with one or two subtle changes to it. So you feel stupid, and annoyed.”
A spokesman for RBS said: “As soon as Mr Wood contacted us we began to investigate his case.
“In cases such as these we attempt to recoup the funds from the recipient’s account, but unfortunately in this case the money had already left the account.
“Should the funds re-appear in the recipient’s account we will recoup them.
“Mr Wood will receive correspondence before the end of September informing him of the outcome of his case.”