At about half past seven on a Sunday night, Harriet, 28, received a phone call, with no Caller ID. She picked up, to be told by the person on the line that they were the Monzo fraud team. They claimed that they had picked up attempts for two transactions totalling £1,200 to be taken from her account, with the caller insisting they wanted to confirm whether it was her or not.
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Confirming that the transactions had nothing to do with her and that it should be stopped immediately, Harriet was then told she was placed on a “level two fraud alert”.
The caller took her through “security questions” – although a wary Harriet never gave any personal information over the phone.
“They had information such as my mother’s maiden name, they had my postcode, they had my date of birth, they had my last four digits of my bank account number,” she tells Express.co.uk.
As part of the so-called security process, Harriet says she was asked to confirm certain details, including an answer to a security question, but was reluctant.
Instead, she asked the caller to verify who they were by asking them to confirm certain details.
The caller said that should Harriet provide the first letter of the word, they would confirm the complete word.
She did, and they did. Their answer was correct.
With the caller having confirmed the exact word, and them knowing so many of her personal and banking details, Harriet began to trust that the caller was genuine.
“They proceeded to state that I had three savings pots, and a current account. I don’t know how they would know that,” she says.
“They said that where my account had actually been breached by somebody, my savings needed to go into my current account.”
Harriet says the caller claimed they had set up a new current account and sort code for her, and she was told to transfer her money into the account.
Reluctant, Harriet was offered the option to speak to a “manager”. Still not fully convinced, she accepted and was subsequently placed on hold, and passed through to another person who reiterated the account and security information.
During the nearly 30-minute phone call, Harriet went on to transfer £770 to the designated account the caller had provided her with.
The caller soon attempted to end the phone call, and while Harriet was unsuspecting at the time, looking back, his last words were chilling.
Harriet says: “He basically said to me, ‘I’m very happy that our security processes have helped you avoid fraud on your account.’”
Moments later, Harriet’s sister suggested that it may have actually been a scam. Within five minutes, Harriet had called the number on the reverse of her Monzo card straight away – at which point the company confirmed they hadn’t contacted her.
Realising she was the victim of a scam, “absolute fear” went through her mind. “I immediately started crying,” she recalls. “Panic. My heart was racing.”
Sadly, there was no way to reverse the transaction, and the money was withdrawn from the recipient account sharpish.
“The way that they did it was so professional,” she says. “These people were proper professionals.”
Via the in-app chat, members of the Monzo team told Harriet that she wouldn’t be able to get her money back, and following an investigation by Monzo, the bank said they wouldn’t be able to refund the cash due to the bank feeling she “didn’t take enough steps to check who you were paying and what for”.
Harriet was left devastated.
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All of her savings had been held in her Monzo account, leaving her only with a credit card to use until payday – which was several weeks away.
“These savings were to do a flat renovation and to pay for my sister’s 30th birthday,” she explains.
Harriet adds: “It ruined my Valentine’s Day let’s just put it that way. It ruined my weekend.
“It ruined my whole week, I’ve had such stress.”
Luckily, Harriet’s bills had come out on her most recent pay day, but she was worried another outgoing such as for her TV would come in, and she’d be left unable to pay it.
Express.co.uk contacted Monzo, who later explained that the company had reversed the original decision not to reimburse the customer – repaying the full £770 as well as offering £50 in compensation as a gesture of apology for reaching the wrong outcome in the first instance.
Monzo added that they were certain the account details had not been compromised, adding that previous scam calls are often made to people who have fallen for phishing calls or texts, with scammers posing as other companies to ask to verify information, and later using this against them.
Monzo also said that the bank never calls someone without arranging to do so via the app first.
A spokesperson for Monzo said: “Unfortunately we did not get this right in the first instance, but we’ve now unreservedly apologised to the customer, refunded the full amount and provided additional compensation.’
“We would never call a customer without arranging it in the app first and would advise anyone who receives an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from Monzo to hang up immediately as this is likely to be a scam.”
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