Last summer I was tricked into transferring my life savings to criminals posing as cryptocurrency brokers.
My friends had told me that lots of people were investing in Bitcoin and doing very well, so I found an online firm claiming to offer Bitcoin and entered my details.
I was then contacted by a number of firms. One assigned me a broker called Alex who requested an initial £250 sign-up fee. This was blocked by my bank, Lloyds, as it was destined for an account in Eastern Europe.
Abandoned: A reader was scammed out his life savings by cryptocurrency fraudsters – but HSBC refused to offer a refund
Alex advised me to open an account at HSBC. Over the next few months she telephoned me daily advising me to invest more.
I made six payments from my Barclaycard totalling £9,500 and paid £82,532 from my HSBC account.
The fraudster told me I needed to hand over another £27,000 or I would lose all my money, so I asked my brother for a loan.
He became suspicious and confirmed that it was a scam with Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority. Barclaycard refunded me but HSBC is refusing.
T. E., London.
This scam is a terrifying example of how vulnerable people can be exploited by cruel criminals who always seem to be one step ahead of the banks.
I spoke to your family about your experience at great length. They told me you are in your 70s and your memory is not as good as it once was.
You were bombarded with calls encouraging you to invest more, which you did on the promise of solid returns.
The final request of £27,000 was to ‘unlock the blockchain’, a term you did not understand, but you believed it was necessary to protect your investment.
Barclaycard refunded the £9,500 without question, but it took more than four months of back and forth before HSBC agreed to reimburse the full £82,532.
Initially the bank refused on the basis that it had contacted you on several occasions to check you knew where the payments were going.
Then it offered you just £8,000. I argued that you were utterly taken in by the crypto-criminals and believed you were making sound investments.
I repeatedly requested transcripts of the calls where it claims to have checked the payments with you, but these were never sent to me.
It should have been up to HSBC to warn you about such scams based on its knowledge of how fraudsters operate.
A spokesman says: ‘We take very great care to consider personal circumstances in cases like these, including factors which may affect decision-making at the time.
‘While we’re satisfied that we acted correctly in respect of the information we had at the time, in light of new information, and as a gesture of goodwill, we have reimbursed Mr E the funds lost.’
You have YOUR say
Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some from our investigation into the costly battle waged over the women’s state pension age:
The state pension age was hiked in a sloppy way. I never received any notification — and I worked for the Department for Work and Pensions. I had no time to change my plans.
E. H., Nottingham.
If it would cost the Government £200 billion to pay back the women, that was never going to pass.
The fairest thing to have done would have been to hike the pension age in increments, so that women had to wait only a few more months, not years.
I. R., Southampton.
I am a 62-year-old woman and I would have been in favour of equalising the state pension age at around 63.
As things stand, I’ve had to start drawing down the personal pension I’ve paid into since my late 20s.
T. C., Shropshire.
Equality works both ways. If the women wanted their pension age to stay at 60, a man should be able to claim at the same age.
I can’t imagine how expensive it would be to backdate that.
J. F., by email.
I have been following both the Backto60 and WASPI campaigns with great interest.
I have my doubts about Backto60 and personally believe WASPI is more likely to be successful.
P. M., Bedfordshire.
These women were always going to lose this battle. They were never going to receive all the money they would have been paid.
The rise in the state pension age was inevitable.
S. S., Southend.
I am a 60-year-old man who began working at 16. I was always under the impression that I would retire at 65, but I will now be unable to claim my state pension until I am 66.
B. Y., Southampton.
My son is in HMP Usk and he asked me to buy a book for him — Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide To Joy by Sadhguru. He said it could be purchased only through Waterstones, as per prison rules.
I ordered it online and was told Royal Mail tried to deliver the parcel, but it was refused. The prison checked the CCTV footage and no parcel was delivered.
I tried to contact Waterstones but the phones aren’t manned and emailing didn’t work. I have written to head office and have had no reply. The book cost £19.99, which is a lot of money for me to lose as an 80-year-old.
H. K., Gloucestershire.
Big-name firms have used the pandemic as an excuse for poor customer service — and this is no different. Waterstones says its customer support lines are closed as its offices are not yet fully reopened.
It is unclear why staff can’t work from home as they do in other customer support teams.
The bookshop says it is taking longer than normal to respond to queries due to the volume of online orders.
But it has now agreed to arrange for a new order to be sent, at no extra charge. Its team will be in touch.
Straight to the point
After buying £2,000 of Income Bonds from NS&I on May 19 I received an email stating I would be sent a confirmation pack that included other information, but I have not received it.
T. F., North Yorkshire.
When you opened the account you set up a password which lets you access a portal, and that is where the details were sent. NS&I says you could not remember the password so it has reset it.
My wife died in May and I’ve been trying to settle her estate. I sent Halifax a proof of her ID and a copy of the death certificate. Why it is asking me for ID again?
D. P., Bristol.
It sounds as if you were incorrectly told that Halifax had all it needed. After I got in touch, it retrieved the final documents from you. The bank has apologised for the poor service and will arrange for compensation to be paid once the estate is settled.
Currys gave me a £40 gift card after my hob was written off and I claimed through its care plan. I tried to use it in a store last month, but was told it had expired.
D. F., Leeds.
The two-year time limit to use the gift card is mentioned in its terms and conditions.
However, Currys has apologised that this wasn’t made clear to you at the time. It has issued you with a new card valued at £80 as a gesture of goodwill.
My airline cancelled my outbound flight, for which I would like to claim a refund, but I want to keep my return flight.
Can I claim a refund for the former without cancelling the latter?
M. P., Altrincham, Gtr Manchester.
You can, but if both legs are under the same booking reference number you will have to call the airline, as it may not be possible to claim the refund using its online forms.
I took out HomeServe boiler cover in December 2010, two years after having an appliance installed. I’ve renewed each year and paid £405.72 for this year’s premium in December.
In March I had a problem with the boiler and successfully claimed to have a part replaced. However, just a few months later another fault developed and I called HomeServe again.
The engineer said he needed to go to collect another part, but never came back. He called the next day to say the boiler was beyond economic repair.
My policy was cancelled and I was given just £200. A new boiler would cost at least £1,000, so how can this be fair?
I. W., Cheshire.
Boilers do not last for ever. Most will break down when they are between ten and 15 years old, so 12 years is not a bad innings.
You say that HomeServe’s terms and conditions were not clear on what ‘beyond economic repair’ (BER) meant.
I had a look at the terms online, which say a boiler is BER if the total cost of the parts needed to fix it exceeds 85 per cent of the retail cost of the boiler or one of a similar make and model.
HomeServe would have replaced the boiler if it was less than seven years old, but yours was almost twice this age. The £200 towards a new boiler is what you are entitled to under the terms.
But after I contacted the firm it refunded you for the months of cover for which you will no longer be eligible — an extra £202.86 — as a goodwill gesture, as you have been a longstanding customer.
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