Morning Live: Pensioner recalls losing his savings to Bitcoin scam
An elderly couple have lost their £80,000 life savings after being conned by a fraudster after seeing a fake advert that falsely claimed he was endorsed by consumer champion Martin Lewis.
The pair, both 78, claim they were told by their account holder Revolut to “use a foodbank” when they tried to claim their money back.
The unnamed couple were told by the scammer that their money would be invested in bitcoin and he persuaded them to use popular e-money platform Revolut to avoid fraud checks.
The Daily Mail reports that the conman explained how to set up accounts with Wise, Binance and Revolut, which the couple had never heard of, as he explained how to avoid triggering fraud prevention processes.
But when they tried to withdraw their money, they were told they actually needed to make further payments.
READ MORE: Man’s retirement destroyed after losing ‘life savings’ to fraudsters
The fraudsters claimed they were endorses by Martin Lewis – but that was a lie
Realising they had been scammed, they told their daughter and son-in-law, who contacted the banks to report the fraud.
But the e-money institution’s response further angered the family, who said its response included providing links to a foodbank website and Age UK.
The couple, who moved back to the UK from France a year ago, invested their savings after seeing an advert for Bitcoin online that falsely claimed it was backed by consumer champion Martin Lewis.
They clicked through and were called by a man calling himself Michael Hampton, who had a profile online that they thought made him look like a ‘dynamic international investor’.
He told them that their bank, Barclays, would question the large transactions and that the couple should tell them they were planning a big purchase.
Complaints to Action Fraud about Revolut rose to 7,198 last year
The Mail says that Barclays did flag the payments as unusual and called the couple to make sure they were happy to move the money.
The scammer then talked them through setting up an account with Wise, a foreign exchange service that was founded in 2011, so that they could invest in Bitcoin.
They sent £10,000 to the account, which was flagged by Wise and the account was shut.
The fraudster then talked the pensioners into setting up a Revolut account, telling them that only the first payment would be flagged on the system.
Over the next few days, the couple made 14 transactions of between £3,000 and £5,000, encouraged at every step by the supposed ‘investment manager’ who called them repeatedly each day.
Mum faces losing home after handing over £150k in fake Martin Lewis ad [LATEST]
The victims were sent a link by Revolut to a food bank
The first transaction prompted a warning message from Revolut, as the scammer said that it would, but none of the other transactions were challenged.
The pensioners received daily updates on their nearly £65,000 ‘investment’, which they were told had nearly doubled in value in just four weeks.
But when they tried to withdraw the money, they were told they needed to pay £10,000 for capital gains tax.
They got in touch with Barclays, who told the pensioners that as it had warned them about the payments and called them before the money left their account it would not refund them the money they had lost.
Revolut first told the couple that there had been “no trace” of fraudulent activity and then said they would not reimburse them – they sent a number of links in the hope that “this information helps you understand the situation and stay safe in the future”.
The daughter said: “We were shell shocked as well that my parents had been scammed like that.”
She said sending a link to a foodbank showed Revolut’s lack of interest and insensitivity.
She added: “Everybody knows about foodbanks, so we didn’t need to see that as a link from Revolut.”
The couple have taken their case to the financial ombudsman.
The Mail says that a director of compliance at a large firm claims that Revolut is the “vehicle of choice” for money launderers and fraudsters.
Recent figures for Revolut showed the number of crime reports made to Action Fraud rose to 7,198 last year, up 81 per cent from 2021.
Revolut offers current account services but is not a bank in the UK, although it announced in early March that it would be getting its banking licence “imminently”.
Paypal scam warning as fraudsters ‘drain’ bank accounts [LATEST]
Revolut is worth £28bn according to its most recent valuation and reported its first profit of £26m in February.
The challenger bank is not signed up to the Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) in the UK, a voluntary agreement between banks to repay victims of some kinds of fraud.
A Wise spokesman told the Mail: “We are truly sorry to learn of the scam Mr and Mrs Atkins have fallen victim to. We’re currently investigating the case and will be in touch with them directly regarding updates on the remaining funds.”
Gareth Shaw, deputy editor at Martin Lewis’s website Money Saving Expert.com, said: “Neither Money Saving Expert nor Martin Lewis ever endorse products or investments.”
Barclays said: “We have every sympathy with our customer who was a victim of a sophisticated investment scam.
“We urge everyone to stay vigilant to fraudulent investment opportunities. Remember, if the investment seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
A Revolut spokesman said: “We take our responsibility to protect and support our customers extremely seriously and have made significant investments in our systems, processes and people to ensure that our customers are safe.
“When making an investment, we urge everyone to take steps to satisfy themselves that the person they are sending money to is legitimate. If in doubt, seek trusted independent financial advice first.”