Barclays hands back £40,000 after JC probe

Barclays Bank has agreed to reimburse a Jewish customer £40,000 after an investigation by the JC highlighted failures in the bank’s anti-fraud protections.

Lydia Cohen, a grandmother from Leeds, was duped by conmen into transferring the sum into an account she believed was set up by the bank’s security staff in her name.

Conmen posing as “Visa Security”, used stolen personal details to convince her they were working for the bank.

But when Mrs Cohen tried to contact the Barclays helpline after becoming suspicious, staff failed five times to transfer her to its fraud department. The bank refused liability for the loss.

‘The bank says it is sympathetic, but I don’t think it is’

Mrs Cohen said she was “devastated” to have lost the sum — life savings of a deceased relative which she inherited — and was angry at her bank for refusing any responsibility for eight months since fraudsters targeted her in May.

“The bank did not put me through to any fraud department. I’m absolutely clear about that. We made a complaint to Barclays and the Financial Ombudsman Service, who both say they are sympathetic but I don’t think they are,” she said.

Both Barclays and the Ombudsman said the bank was not at fault because the final transaction was made by Mrs Cohen herself.

After an internal investigation Barclays said it was “unable to treat the transaction as fraudulent.”

But a telephone recording heard by the JC revealed that Barclays failed to ask basic anti-fraud questions which would have exposed the scam.

Staff also appeared not to know that Visa credit card company itself would never call UK customers directly about fraudulent payments, a tell-tale sign a scam was occurring.

The JC also learned that four days before, another customer fell victim to the same scam — known as “Vishing” — at the same Barclays branch. But the alarm was not raised by Mrs Cohen’s almost identical transaction.

Barclays apologised and said in the light of new information, it would uphold Mrs Cohen’s complaint.

Mrs Cohen said: “I think I’m dreaming and I’m going to wake up. I’m absolutely shaking. I do thank the Jewish Chronicle, and we want to warn other people about this scam.”

Last updated: 9:45am, December 24 2013