Dispute resolution and commercial litigation partners Steve Thomas and Anna Shaw, based in Leeds, recently secured a repayment of £220k plus interest from a high street bank for their client who had been scammed out of his life savings.
The client, a restaurant owner in East Yorkshire, had instructed his bank, via his internet banking app, to send money to a legitimate investment bank. Unbeknown to him, fraudsters had cloned the website of the investment bank and also impersonated senior bank officials over the phone and on Zoom calls.
The client transferred over £250k (his life savings) over the course of a number of days and then discovered he was the victim of a sophisticated fraud.
Steve Thomas explains: “We were instructed to pursue the high street bank and bring the claim to the attention of the Financial Ombudsman Services (FOS), which can order banks to repay money in situations like this if they believe it is just to do so and the evidence is there.
“The area of law is complicated but the courts recognise that banks have a duty to customers to raise queries about transactions which are unusual, even when the customers order the banks to make payments.”
After a year of working on the case, the FOS ordered the bank to repay £220k with interest to the client as they agreed that the bank failed in its duty to protect the client and should have raised questions concerning the majority of the payments that were requested.
Anna Shaw commented. “We did not have to proceed further with any form of legal claim through the courts as the FOS has significant power over banks. There was also a precedent in a recent Court of Appeal case in favour of a customer in similar circumstances through an Authorised Push Payment fraud.
“Our client is over the moon with the result but it has been an extremely anxious time and a reminder that when transferring money it is recommended to use a variety of checks and original sources to identify the legitimacy of the organisation you are dealing with.”