Mum was swindled out of £29,000 but Lloyds showed little empathy | Consumer affairs

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

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

She received a cold call from someone claiming to be from Vanguard, the investment company, offering a chance to invest in cryptocurrency. The 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 her the rest of her life to recover from these financial losses.

In the telephone conversation, outlining the outcome of the investigation, Lloyds admitted that there was a language barrier and that my mother had little 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, of 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 received no support.

Lloyds’ final decision is to refund around £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 defrauded take a dim view of those who lose their savings to fraudsters because the sequence of events in the cold light of today may seem extraordinary. Until it happens to them, that is.

Over time, scammers tricked your mum into sending them her savings, as well as money borrowed from Lloyds and Zopa.

In this type of case, Lloyds assesses whether it could have done more to protect the customer, as well as whether the individual did enough to protect himself. I’m afraid it didn’t change its mind when we asked it to look into your case.

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

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

When your mother took out several Lloyds loans – one of which she returned – the bank says it should have contacted her. That’s why, under the “conditional reimbursement model” (a voluntary scheme requiring signatory banks to detect and prevent payment fraud, and compensate fraud victims who have not been unduly negligent), it shares responsibility for a £5,000 loan.

The bank has refunded £2,715, which includes a small compensation because it took too long to investigate. It does not believe it is responsible for the rest.

Lloyds says: “We sympathize JK as the victim of an investment scam and have made a partial refund as we realize we could have done more to prevent some of the payments being made. It is very important to treat any unexpected calls with caution and take the time to do independent research on any investment opportunities, as real companies will not rush you into a decision.”

As for your concerns about the language barrier, Lloyds says your mother has been dealing with it since 1993 without making a complaint or asking for support. “We are happy to help with any additional support JK may need with her banking services and have written to her directly,” it added.

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

We are happy to accept letters, but cannot respond individually. Email us at [email protected] or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please provide a daytime telephone number. Submission and publication of all letters are subject to our terms and conditions

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