A GYM owner has had his TSB bank account completely cleared out by scammers after they stole £17,000.
John Machin, 34, from Cheshire, had been saving the money for a mortgage to buy his ex-partner out of her half of the home they used to share together.
Paul Cousans – The Sun John Machin has spent 18 months saving for his mortgage deposit which was stolen by scammers after his account was hacked
It’s taken the best part of 18 months of hard work and selling his things for John to get the £15,000 he needs together, but now he doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to pay for it before the offer closes in three weeks.
If he doesn’t stump up the cash in time then his home will go back the market.
John’s account has been locked since May 14, so he can’t log on to his online banking.
But it also means that clients can’t pay John, who’s self-employed, forcing him to borrow money from friends until his account is unlocked.
Hackers transferred his entire savings out of his account in three huge amounts Paul Cousans – The Sun John had to ask staff from his local TSB branch to print his balance to find out how much they had stolen
“My home and my business are at risk here and they don’t seem to be doing anything about it,” John told The Sun.
“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.
“I’ve got three weeks to get the money together before the deadline or my house has to go up for sale.
“If I don’t get it back, I’ll have to beg and borrow from my friends but they’re already helping me out.
“It’s bad for business too. 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.”
What is a ‘sim swap’ and how do scammers use it to steal your money?
ALTHOUGH he didn’t know it at the time, Rupert was actually a victim of a “sim swap
This is a technique used by fraudsters to gain access to your phone.
This is because most banks use two-step authentication when you want to transfer money to a new payee.
Often your bank will text you a unique four digit code that you need to complete the transaction.
Fraudsters who already have your bank details call your phone network provider and prentend to be you, asking to swap the phone number to a new SIM card that is owned by scammers.
This technique allows fraudsters to intercept messages that are sent to your phone.
They can then set up a new payee and send the funds to where they want them.
The Sun Online has been inundated with calls from scores of TSB customers who have been a victim of this type of fraud over the past few weeks.
There have been 321 TSB phishing scams reported to Action Fraud since the beginning of May – up from just 30 on the month before.
Scammers have been targeting TSB customers amid chaos caused by a planned IT upgrade which left 1.9million customers unable to access their online banking.
Scammers used the frightening sim swap technique to get hold of his money, where fraudsters convince your phone firm to switch your phone number.
They then intercept authentication codes sent from your bank and use them to transfer funds to their own account.
John added: “It was about two hours between me noticing that my network was down and them stealing my money.
Paul Cousans – The Sun
“I managed to get in touch with my network provider pretty quickly who shut down the new sim but it was too late.
“They took the £15,000 I need for the deposit and £1,500 from my overdraft, which they’d extended from £1,000 to £4,000.
“I have no idea if I’m going to get the money back before the deadline. It’s stressing me out beyond anything else.”
Banks have to refund fraudulent payments without “undue delay” but many customers haven’t even been able to get through to TSB’s fraud team to start an investigation, because phone lines are inundated.
How to protect yourself from sim swap fraud
HERE’S how you can protect yourself from sim swap fraud:
- If you stop receiving texts and calls and you’re not sure why, contact your network operator immediately
- Do not give away you internet banking passwords or PIN to anyone becaue your bank will never ask you for this
- Don’t use the same password for more than one thing
- Don’t publish the answers to your memorable questions on social media because scammers can find them and use them
- If you’re worried that your details might be compromised, contact your bank.
John has reported the fraud to TSB who promised investigate it and get back to him within 48 hours, but two weeks later he still hadn’t heard back.
Since The Sun intervened, the bank has refunded John the money, but his account it still locked.
He added: “I feel like I’m just a number to them but it’s real for me. It’s like they’ve just buried their heads in the sand.
“They still haven’t given me access to my money. I’ll be trying again today [to get in touch] because it really is last minute for me to raise the capital for the house.