Mark: Financial Scam Case Study
Mark: Financial Scam
In the months since the pandemic, financial scams have been on the rise, as Mark, a long term gpfm client learnt first hand. Within the space of just one week, Mark fell victim to two financial scams. He now wants to share his story to make sure the same doesn’t happen to others.
Mark had been having trouble with his internet connection, so when he received a call from his internet provider, nothing seemed amiss. The man on the phone told him he would need an upgrade. However, he also explained that someone was trying to withdraw money from his bank account. Mark was given a reference number and transferred to the police.
The man on the phone sounded honest, calm and professional. He told Mark that they needed his help to catch the people trying to break into his bank account. To do so, he must transfer some money into a dummy account to lure the criminal.
Mark called his bank to make the transfer. The man on the phone had given him a script and told him that the criminal worked for the bank so he mustn’t let on that this was a police operation. When Mark called the bank to transfer the £8,000, they were suspicious but authorised the payment. However, the man on the phone claimed that the money didn’t go through, so Mark called back to try again. The woman from the bank asked him if he had made a payment abroad, which Mark denied. Suspecting foul play, they put him through to the fraud department anyway.
The fraud department asked him if there was someone on the other phone. When Mark confirmed there was, they told him to put the phone down immediately – he had been scammed. In total, the scammer kept Mark on the phone for six or seven hours. He was worn down and sent running in circles by a seemingly trustworthy figure. Luckily, his bank agreed to give him the money he lost.
The next chapter in Mark’s story starts a few weeks prior to the phone scam. Mark had been looking to invest in bitcoin for some time. He had done some preliminary research online and eventually responded to a Facebook ad from a website called ITrade Invest, a bitcoin trading platform. He gave his contact information, and some days later Mark received a call from an ITrade Invest representative. The rep explained how the platform worked, persuading Mark to invest a small sum and download a screen sharing app. He explained that the company was based in Manchester and registered with the FCA. A compliance officer later called Mark, asking for a copy of his passport, driving license and credit card.
Mark sent the required documents and invested the initial sum of £500. Sure enough, he could see the progress of his investment on the platform immediately. Impressed, he made another £2,000 investment on the platform. The representative handled the investing for him, keeping Mark up to date with the decisions he was making. When Mark asked for proof that he could make a withdrawal, he was shown how, and the money appeared in his account a few days later. A relationship of trust, and even friendship had built between Mark and the representative, giving him the confidence to invest another £3,000 on his credit debit card.
On the evening of the phone scam, Mark checked his online banking app, only to find his credit card unavailable. In the morning, he called the bank, who told him his card had been blocked. In addition to the £3,000 payment he had authorised payments made, another four payments had been taken from his account.
He contacted the FCA who told him that ITrade Invest was not a registered company. They explained that the investment he had seen grow on the platform was simply what would have happened if he had invested. Instead, Mark had been making payments into a foreign account.
In total, Mark was scammed out of around £16,000. However, the more significant damage has been the impact of the experience on Mark’s health and wellbeing. His sense of trust has been undermined and the stress has made him quite ill. He has since been having chest pains.
A word from Mark
“They use scare tactics more than anything. The man on the phone would say “don’t tell them, we’re almost there,” or, “you’ll get the money back straight after.” I was on the phone for so long. They wear you down to the point where you’ll do anything – I was being controlled to the point that I lied to my own bank. They’re so clever.
“The number one thing I would say to anybody doing this kind of transaction is call the FCA and ask if the company is registered.
“My other piece of advice would be, never do any type of investment on Facebook. If you’re going to do any investment, speak to the FCA or your financial adviser.
“It has made me a different person. I know that might sound a bit dramatic, but I feel awful. I want to make sure no one gets caught out in the same way.”
Take Five to Stop Fraud
Take Five is a national campaign helping people recognise and prevent fraud. It offers advice and resources to combat fraud and help you protect yourself and loved ones. Alternatively, if you are concerned about any of the issues raised in this article and would like to talk to a member of the team here at gpfm, please don’t hesitate to get in touch over email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01992500261.
Please note, the names used in this article are fictious for reasons of anonymity.
This article is for information only and must not be considered as financial advice. We always recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making any financial decisions. Investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested.
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