Mother was scammed out of £29,000, but Lloyds showed little empathy | consumer affairs

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My mother, JK, has been a Lloyds Bank customer for 30 years and last summer fell victim to authorized push payment fraud. She was scammed out of close to £30,000.

English is not her first language, and I have been trying to help her get the money back.

She received a cold call from someone claiming to be from Vanguard, the investment firm, offering a chance to invest in cryptocurrency. They persuaded her to make payments totaling £29,167 to a Skrill “crypto wallet” using her savings, as well as loans.

Lloyds initially refused to investigate, and it took great persistence to get it to take up the case. My mother works nights in a factory, and it will take the rest of her life to recover from these financial losses.

In the phone call, outlining the outcome of its investigation, Lloyds admitted there was a language barrier, and that my mother had a low understanding of making financial decisions. But it seems to think she should have been able to protect herself from scammers.

I felt it had zero understanding, or empathy, in relation to the challenges faced by customers from ethnic minority backgrounds, and those from lower socio-economic groups. During the scam she went into a branch to ask for help but did not get any support.

Lloyds’ final decision is to pay about £2,700, a fraction of what she lost. I want to raise awareness of how Lloyds treats its customers.

VK, Nottingham

Many of those who have never been scammed take a dim view of those who lose their savings to fraudsters because, in the cold light of day, the chain of events can seem extraordinary. Until it happens to them, that is.

Over time, fraudsters duped your mother into sending them her savings, as well as money borrowed from Lloyds and Zopa.

In these kinds of cases, Lloyds considers whether it could have done more to protect the customer, as well as whether the individual did enough to protect themselves. I’m afraid it did not change its mind when we asked it to look at your case.

Your mother did not attempt to check the identity of the cold caller, or research her investment. The bank says it also flagged up that it could not verify the account she was paying into when she set it up using online banking.

Thankfully, her losses have been reduced substantially after some payments were returned, or cancelled, and Zopa wrote off a £20,000 loan. As a result, Lloyds estimates her total loss stands at £8,150.

When your mother took out multiple Lloyds loans – one of which she returned – the bank says it should have contacted her. That is why, under the “contingent reimbursement model” (a voluntary scheme that requires signatory banks to detect and prevent payment scams, and compensate fraud victims who have not been unduly negligent), it is sharing liability for a £5,000 loan.

The bank has refunded £2,715, which includes a small compensation payment because it took too long to investigate. It doesn’t think it is liable for the rest.

Lloyds says: “We sympathize with J.K. as the victim of an investment scam, and have made a partial refund as we recognize we could have done more to prevent some of the payments made. It’s really important to treat any unexpected calls with caution, taking your time to do independent research on any investment opportunities, as genuine companies will not rush you into a decision.”

As to your concerns about the language barrier, Lloyds says your mother has banked with it since 1993 without raising a complaint, or asking for support. “We’re happy to help with any additional support JK may need with her banking, and have written to her directly,” it adds.

You are unhappy with the treatment your mother received. I was going to suggest contacting the Financial Ombudsman but you already have, so we wish you luck pursuing the case.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions

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