A customer of Santander Bank had £60,000 scammed from her account after transferrring funds to a criminal impersonating the bank's head of fraud, Chris Ainsley.
The customer received a text message asking her to confirm a £500 payment to which she responded ‘No’. The customer then received a call from a spoofed caller ID appearing as a Santander number. The caller introduced himself as Chris Ainsley, head of Santander’s fraud team.
The imposter thanked the customer for confirming the £500 payment was fraudulent, but claimed further payments were being attempted. As a result of this the customer was told that a new ‘safe account’ had been opened and that she should transfer her current account balance to the new account urgently.
After cross-checking Chris Ainsley’s name on LinkedIn, on the instruction of the impersonator, the customer transferred over £60,000 in funds to the fraudster’s account. She was also instructed by the fraudster to mislead the bank about the true reasons for her payments, in order to avoid the bank uncovering the scam.
The criminal then ended the call and cut all contact. After a few days when the customer didn’t receive her new online banking details she contacted Santander and was informed she had been a victim of a scam.
Banks have a spotty record in reimbursing customers who fall victim to authorised push payment fraud, but in this case, "due to the individual circumstances", Santander made good on the losses.
Santander recorded £10.2 million worth of impersonation scams between January-March this year, up 11% from the same period last year, with the average reported loss per customer £6,906 for this period.
Says Ainsley: “Scammers leave no stone unturned in tricking victims, and as somebody working with colleagues across Santander to protect customers from fraud, it was quite a surprise to discover scammers impersonating me. Imitation is certainly not a form of flattery in this case, but instead a timely reminder that nobody from a bank or legitimate organisation would ever attempt to rush you into transferring funds into another account."