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I have lost £40k after falling for an online scam. Can I get it back?

I am 67 and living with terminal liver cancer. I have fallen victim to a scam into which I have put £40,000 of my £47,500 savings account.

I saw an advert that suggested Amazon were supporting a new venture that would see householders making life-changing money and decided to invest with the minimum amount accepted set at $250.

I was called multiple times after this and persuaded to transfer thousands of pounds as ‘investments’ but now I realise it was a scam.

I have contacted my bank Barclays to be told it cannot help me as I moved monies from my account myself. Are you able to help me regain my funds? D.K., via email

A man living with terminal cancer has been scammed out of £40,000 online [stock image]

Grace Gausden, consumer expert at This is Money, replies: I am very sorry, firstly, to hear of your diagnosis. 

If that wasn’t heartbreaking enough to hear, you have lost £40,000 after falling victim to an online scam and can’t bring yourself to tell your family about the incident. 

The problems started in early December 2021 when you saw an advert that suggested Amazon were supporting a new venture that would see people make life-changing money, with a firm called Concept Blue.

When clicking on it, it said it revolved around auto-trading, which interested you.

The minimum investment was set at US$250 and you decided to go ahead, paying with your credit card.

Within 24 hours of making the payment, you received a telephone call from someone at Concept Blue explaining that he was a mentor to help you place trades and help set up your account. 

GRACE ON THE CASE

This is the last Grace on the Case in its current format – but no fear, the regular series will continue every Thursday on This is Money.

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the column and am thrilled to have helped readers claw back nearly £500,000.

I want to thank all of those who have contacted me with their problems. 

Contact: editor@thisismoney.co.uk if you have a consumer problem.

By the end of day two, after your account was ‘set up’, your balance was showing as $717 with approximately 15 trades being placed successfully.

You had sales patter that claimed Concept Blue was so large in scale that it receives signals the average individual is not privy to – in hindsight, this was a telltale sign something wasn’t right. 

The next couple of weeks saw your balance move up significantly and you followed the share prices on the account which appeared to be real-time when you compared elsewhere.

Several days later, you received another call from someone who claimed to work at Concept Blue who said she was currently looking at investments in the US property market that could return 18 per cent or more.

She added something may come up in the next few days and if interested, you should provide more money to invest. 

She said a £12,000 return was possible for a £3,000 investment or £22,000 for £5,000. Unfortunately, you ended up ‘investing’ the latter.

You were told high street banks still frowned on cryptocurrency investments and therefore they recommended opening an account with online bank, Revolut, which you did.

The staff member then stated she needed the money to go into bitcoin and a further account would be required. She recommended Binance and you opened yet another account.

You then transferred £5,000 to Revolut from Barclays. To help you with the purchasing of bitcoin, the staff member suggested that you allowed her to control your PC which, again, you did. 

She recommended further funds and you continued to send over money, believing this would increase your investment return.

Scam: Barclays have investigated the incident after several unusual payments were made

Scam: Barclays have investigated the incident after several unusual payments were made

After sending over thousands, you began to feel hesitant about any further investments but were told that Concept Blue provided an insurance document that guaranteed return of the initial investment but not profits.

This reassured you that, at the very minimum, you would see your life savings again.  

Concept Blue continued to explain that, as a ‘beginner’, their conditions dictated that you could make only one withdrawal, for example, to close the account.

However, for an investment of £25,000 you could become a VIP with no limit to withdrawals, which is what you then transferred, taking the total to £40,000 invested.

This money was moved from your Barclays savings through Revolut to Binance. You moved the amount in smaller sums, as you were asked to, with £25,000 going through. A further withdrawal of £10,000 was stopped by Barclays.

You were told as a result of this, Concept Blue was now unable to move the initial £25,000 back because the flag raised by Barclays had also blocked your Revolut account.

This raised your suspicions and it was then you realised how much money you had lost with the transferred funds supposed to be saved for your funeral and bequests to family.

Since then, you have been contacted multiple times from Concept Blue asking you to invest even more money but you have refused and told the firm you believe you have been scammed.

You have asked repeatedly for your money to be returned but have, unsurprisingly, received no response.

Revolut were also involved after the consumer set up an account with them under instruction

Revolut were also involved after the consumer set up an account with them under instruction

The whole scenario has added much stress to you at a time when you are already going through an incredibly difficult period. It is even harder as you have kept this a secret and have not yet told your family, including your wife.  

I contacted Barclays to see if it was able to help return your funds. 

Unfortunately, it has been unable to reclaim the funds as they were sent from your own account to your own account with Revolut.  

As such, it is not liable for reimbursement in line with the CRM Code.

A Barclays spokesperson said: ‘We have every sympathy with our customer who has been the victim of an investment scam and are expediting our ongoing investigation into this case.

‘We urge customers to check whether the investment company is a genuine FCA regulated financial firm before transferring any monies and, if in doubt, get independent financial advice first. If the investment opportunity seems too good to be true, it undoubtedly is.’

You are just one of thousands who has been hit by what is known as an authorished push payment scam. 

These involve the fraudster tricking their victims into willingly making large bank transfers to them.

For example, they may pose as someone from a bank, or another trusted organisation, before claiming the customer has been a victim of fraud and telling them to move money to a different bank account. 

Often there is a demand to act quickly, giving the customer less time to think about what they are being asked to do. 

In your case, whilst Barclays are unable to assist further, Revolut has confirmed it will now investigate.

While it is highly probable it will draw the same conclusion as Barclays and the funds will likely already have been moved to a further account, run by the scammers, it is always worth reporting just in case it is able to reclaim some money.  

I am very sorry I was unable to assist you in getting your funds back, but I wanted to publish this tale to show the lengths scammers go to cook up convincing companies, investments and situations to steal money – and they have no care whether you have terminal cancer or not.  

An NS&I customer was left upset after the firm took months to return his dead wife's funds

An NS&I customer was left upset after the firm took months to return his dead wife’s funds

Hit and miss: This week’s naughty and nice list

Each week, I look at some of the companies that have fallen short of expected standards as well as those that have gone that extra mile for customers.

Miss: This week, reader Brian, criticised NS&I‘s customer service after his wife sadly passed away last year.

He said: ‘My wife passed away in May last year. Shortly after, I completed an online request for partial release of her savings from NS&I and posted all requested documentation for a £5,000 advance towards funeral expenses.

‘The documents were sent back to me and I was told the process is taking longer than normal. I raised a complaint about the delay after weeks went by but this was closed in June.

‘By this time I had contacted my wife’s building society accounts, as funeral payments were now overdue. Later in June, I was contacted by NS&I asking me to complete the forms and documents – the very same documents that had been returned to me some six weeks earlier.

‘In response, I raised another complaint and also advised I would be closing both our accounts. However, I have still not received an acknowledgement to my letter despite not now being able to log into my wife’s account.’

I contacted NS&I as the delayed response and lack of communication only added more stress onto an already difficult time. You were also in need of the funds.

A spokesperson for NS&I said: ‘We received a bereavement claims form from Brian on 11 May 2021.

‘On the bereavement claims form, he specified that he would like his late wife’s Premium Bonds to remain in the monthly prize draws for 12 months after her death. This is something that the executor of an estate is able to request.

‘The documentation provided alongside this was scanned into NS&I’s systems and returned to Mr Roughan that same day, which would have been the letter than he received on 12 May 2021.

‘At this time – and due to a strict lockdown in force in Chennai, India, where NS&I deals with some back office processing tasks – there were delays to some of NS&I’s processes. The offices were then closed from 24 May, reopening on 10 June.

‘During this time, NS&I moved processes back to our UK sites in order to minimise any inconvenience to our customers.

‘Due to these delays, NS&I did not respond to Brian’s claim until 24 June. Within this response, NS&I included an application form for him to apply for some of the funds to pay for funeral costs, as he had requested this in previous correspondence to us.

‘This form asks the executor of an estate to confirm there are no funds available elsewhere to pay these costs, as well as where the executor would like any funds paid to. This was different to the bereavement claims form that he had previously sent to NS&I.

‘On 5 July 2021, NS&I received a letter from Brian confirming the funeral costs had now been paid.

‘The processing of his late wife’s estate took longer than it ordinarily would due to the reasons explained above. NS&I would like to apologise to Brian for the delays he experienced at what we understand was an extremely difficult time for him.’

Unfortunately, this was not the response you were hoping for and are now considering legal action due to the delays in settling the accounts.  

However, shortly after I contacted NS&I, you received the funds you requested and you have since closed both your and your wife’s accounts meaning your dealings with NS&I can now be done and hopefully you can grieve in peace.

A Gorilla Robes customer found her robe was faulty on a dog walk but it was quickly replaced

A Gorilla Robes customer found her robe was faulty on a dog walk but it was quickly replaced

Hit: In better news, this week reader Amanda, praised clothing firm, Gorilla Robes.

She said: ‘I received a Gorilla Robe for Christmas from my parents and sadly on the third time of wearing it whilst walking the dogs one of the zips came off of the teeth on one side.

‘I contacted Gorilla Robes online. They sincerely apologised and gave me a code to get a replacement robe from their website as well as asking for a couple of photos to see what had happened to the zip.

‘Now I have a new robe and I also get to keep the one with the broken zip. Now that is what I call excellent customer service.’

No monkey business here, it was quick and easy for you to get your robe replaced.

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