A gym owner had his £17,000 mortgage deposit cleared out of his bank account by hackers using the TSB SIM swap scam.
John Machin, from Cheshire, had been saving for nearly 18 months to raise the £15,000 he needed to buy his ex-partner out of her half of their house.
But scammers managed to clear the cash out of his bank account and extend his overdraft in three huge withdrawals earlier this month, reports the Sun.
The technique used involves convincing your phone network provider to swap your phone number on to a new SIM card the scammers own.
Your bank then texts you an authentication code to let you log in, or make a bank transfer. But because the scammers now have a phone with your number, the authentication details are sent to them instead of you.
With that code they can log into your bank account, and easily transfer cash out of your account and into their own.
Gym owner John Machin, pictured, had £17,000 taken out of his TSB bank account by hackers using the SIM swap scam
Mr Machin is now worried he won’t get the money back in time before the offer closes on his house in three weeks when it will be put back on the market.
On top of this problem, his bank account is locked, meaning clients can’t pay him for his work as a self-employed gym owner.
Mr Machin told the Sun: ‘My home and my business are at risk here and they don’t seem to be doing anything about it.
Mr Machin had been saving up for 18 months to buy his ex-partner out of the home they shared together. He is now worried he will not get the money back in time and the house will go on the market
‘It’s not like I didn’t have the money for the mortgage but it’s been stolen from me and I have no idea when I’ll get it back.’
He added: ‘I trust my clients to pay me when my account is up and running but it’s just embarrassing. This is the kind of thing that could sink us.’
Action Fraud have said 321 TSB phishing scams have been reported to them since the start of May, compared to just 30 the month before.
TSB customers in particular have been targeted in the scam because 1.9million customers were left without access to their online banking – meaning scammers could get in and out of bank accounts before victims even noticed.
Mr Machin reported the scam to TSB who said they would get back to him within 48 hours, but it took around two weeks before they refunded him the money, and his bank account is still locked.
A spokesperson for TSB said: ‘We’re really sorry for the experience Mr Machin has had and the distress and inconvenience this has caused him.
‘I am pleased to say we have spoken to him and resolved his case – he has been fully refunded.’
How does the SIM swap scam work?
Plenty of banks now use two-step verification when dealing with online transactions which involves sending a code, either to your email or via text, that you need to complete any movement of money on your account.
Scammers, who already have your bank details, contact your phone provider to have your number swapped over to a new SIM card that they own.
Then the scammers are able to log in to your online banking with verification codes sent to their own mobile phone.
TSB customers in particular have been targeted by the SIM swap scam because 1.9million customers were left without access to their online banking.
This meant scammers could get in and out of bank accounts before victims even noticed.