‘Nearly destroyed her life!’ NatWest issues warning after woman scammed for £25,000

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Unfortunately, scams are becoming increasingly common, with fraudsters deploying numerous tricks to hook innocent victims. One type of scam is a “romance scam” which involves a fraudster building a false relationship with someone to lure them in for their cash.

This was the case in 2019 for a NatWest customer who was online when she met a man with whom she quickly established a friendship.

With the pair hitting it off, over the course of nine months, they gradually grew closer and a relationship developed.

The man sent her gifts, the couple spoke on the phone, and they had even exchanged photographs.

Although many online relationships begin in this way, there was a factor which meant the situation quickly unravelled.

This occurred when NatWest staff found out the customer had been sending her online acquaintance money.

In total, she had already parted with £25,000 before the matter became apparent. 

Neil Wainwright, Customer Protection Manager at NatWest, explained how his suspicions were raised.

He said: “There were certain red flags.

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“I looked at the emails they exchanged and the rationale for sending the money just didn’t fit.”

It was at this point Mr Wainwright had alarms go off in his head, where he was keen to intervene to protect the woman.

He continued: “I told her that from all the information I’d gathered and from my experience, I believed she was being financially abused.”

Thankfully, Mr Wainwright was able to intervene before any further damage was done.

The woman in question was already in the process of remortgaging her house and was also about to send over another £30,000.

Mr Wainwright added: “It nearly destroyed her life.”

Bank staff such as in this instance are on hand to look into a matter if a person believes they are being scammed.

NatWest states it protects customers who are vulnerable to fraud, scams or even financial abuse from someone they know.

Individuals who are living with complex vulnerabilities such as mental health issues, relationship abuse or addictions can also gain support or guidance.

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Savers can be referred to Customer Protection Managers when bank staff become concerned about an unusual request or change in behaviour.

It is a safeguard a number of banks have in place in order to protect their customers from being scammed.

Mr Wainwright said: “We encourage our colleagues to look for clues, to be curious and ask the next question. 

“This might be about something a family member has said, or strange activity on a customer’s account. 

“Sometimes they’ll just have a gut instinct that something’s wrong when serving a customer.”

People who believe they have fallen victim to a scam are encouraged to report the matter to their bank straight away.

They can also contact Action Fraud or Police Scotland who could take the matter further to catch those involved. 

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