A man who lost £18,000 to fraudsters believes he was spiked before the criminals used financial apps on his smartphone.
Ben Gregory, 26, says that he woke up after a night out in Clapham, south London to find that someone had created several overdrafts and emptied his savings account – a loss of £18,000.
Mr Gregory had been for a meal with friends before heading to a night club in the summer before he woke up the next day ‘dizzy, dazed’ and ‘not quite sure what happened’.
He told the BBC: ‘I felt terrible, absolutely terrible.
‘Over the next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t sleep, found it very hard to eat. Because ultimately I felt worried and vulnerable.’
Ben Gregory, 26, says that he woke up after a night out in Clapham, south London to find that fraudsters had used his phone’s financial apps to steal £18,000 from his bank accounts (stock image)
‘I had some messages on my work phone from my brother saying: ‘Is everything OK [because] there’s been an overdraft opened on our joint account. What’s happened?’.
‘As soon as I saw that alarm bells started ringing because I didn’t do that.’
The fraudsters had reportedly used Ben’s phone to set up two new £2,500 overdrafts on his bank accounts as well as moving his savings into his current account and emptying it.
His losses totalled just over £18,000 across his accounts with American Express, Monzo, HSBC and Revolut.
While Ben was refunded his losses from American Express and Monzo within days, HSBC and Revolut initially refused to give him his losses back.
The hold-outs did eventually relent and refund Ben after his story was reported in the press.
HSBC told the BBC: ‘We have thoroughly reviewed this case, and in light of new information we will be providing a full refund to Mr Gregory.
‘While we have an experienced team looking for signs of fraud, as this case sadly highlights, scammers are unscrupulous criminals who use a range of techniques to exploit their victims.
Spiking is more commonly associated with predatory men drugging women in order to sexually assault them but Ben believes that his ordeal was intended to defraud him
‘We encourage people to be on their guard.’
Revolut told the BBC: ‘This was an unusual case where the payments were authorised by the customer but, as is now clear, without his consent.
‘We very much regret the distress and inconvenience to Mr Gregory and we have reimbursed his losses.’
Ben’s ordeal comes as alarms are being raised over reports of women being spiked in nightclubs through injections with needles rather than the more-common method putting drugs in drinks.
Spiking is more commonly associated with predatory men drugging women in order to sexually assault them.
Ben believes that his ordeal was specifically intended to defraud him.
David Clarke, chair of the Fraud Advisory Panel charity told the BBC: ‘Fraudsters are cruel, devious people online and in the physical world and people must be alert to the danger of having drinks spiked especially in the Christmas party season when people may be off guard.’
Inspector Dave Laurie, who works for London’s Metropolitan Police, offered advise to victims of spiking in the wake of the incident.
He told the BBC: ‘Buy your own drink, watch it being poured, don’t accept drinks from strangers, never leave it unattended.
‘If your drink doesn’t taste right throw it away and get another one.’
Police investigating Ben’s case say they have made several arrests.
Stock shot of drinks in a pub
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Despite lots of calls to police forces, charities and other organisations it’s impossible to know how common spiking fraud is.
But David Clarke from the Fraud Advisory Panel says even if it is rare the consequences for victims are very real.
‘We need big tech and big finance to come up with big solutions to this type of fraud, ‘ he says.
‘Yes individuals can try to help themselves, but there is a limit to what people can do.
‘We need technology to help because the crooks are so advanced.’