ASK TONY: I was conned out of £12,500 by Bitcoin boiler-room scam and my bank says there’s nothing it can do
You must get plenty of letters about older people being scammed out of their money by shysters.
Unfortunately, I am a stupid woman who has been conned out of £12,500. Only when I asked my husband for more money did the scam, which started with a phone call, come to light.
The first £1,000 was taken from a joint account. Next, I was told it would be easier if the money came from my sole account. What a fool I was!
I have been in touch with Nationwide, but it doesn’t seem to be able to do anything. Please can you help?
C. S., East Sussex.
Bitcoin bandits: A reader lost £12,500 after she was tricked in handing over cash for bogus crypto-currency investments
Tony Hazell replies: When I read a letter like yours, my first, rather uncharitable, thought is that I hope the perpetrator slips on the stairs and suffers a painful and life-changing injury – because that is what they seek to inflict on others every time they pick up the phone.
Fraudsters not only steal a person’s money, they can also shatter their confidence and self-esteem. The caller claimed to be a broker and encouraged you to invest in bitcoin. They set up a trading account in your name -with your authority.
You used your online banking facilities to instruct Nationwide to transfer £12,500 to a cryptocurrency exchange, in two separate payments. This exchange is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
You selected ‘item or activity’ as the reason for the transfer, rather than ‘investment’. If you had chosen ‘investment’, you would have received a more appropriate warning which may have encouraged you to stop.
The fraudster sent the money to a Latvian bank, then it was moved to another cryptocurrency exchange operating in China.
When the scammers came for a third tranche of money, you spoke to your husband who persuaded you to stop. Despite every attempt, Nationwide was not able to recover your funds.
You suffered a brain tumour five years ago which has impacted your decision-making abilities and makes you forgetful. Nationwide says that while it did take your vulnerability into account, this was not done in the early stages.
It says if it had done this, it may have been able to make a claim to the financial industry’s ‘no blame’ fund. However, this option is no longer available as the initial investigation has been concluded.
Taking all this into account, Nationwide has given you an early Christmas present by refunding all your money as a gesture of goodwill.
A spokesman says: ‘We sympathise with the member, who went through what must have been a very worrying time.
‘While we correctly processed the payments as per her instructions, her potential vulnerability means we could have made a claim under the ‘no-blame’ fund of the Contingent Reimbursement Model.
We would encourage people to be wary of being contacted out of the blue with an investment opportunity.’
If I could persuade everyone to make one New Year’s resolution, it would be to politely tell all cold callers to get stuffed.
Refund for cancelled cruise is lost at sea
I am owed a refund for a £300 deposit paid in February for a cruise to Iceland. The cruise company South Quay Travel & Leisure, trading as Cruise & Maritime Voyages, was placed into administration on July 20.
ABTA contacted me and provided a claim number. I have sent the requested information and documentation but I seem to have hit a brick wall – and I cannot get through to ABTA. I just keep getting referred to ‘frequently asked questions’.
R. G., Wimborne, Dorset.
Tony Hazell replies: Ah, yes. Frequently asked questions, which never seem to answer our main question: where’s my money?
ABTA apologises for the time taken to deal with your claim. It says it is dealing with around 30,000 claims owing to the number of company failures. As a result, claims are taking longer to process than normal.
It has sent you £100, which represents the amount paid by your travel agent to Cruise & Maritime Voyages. The balance of £200 is due from your travel agent, so you should contact it to ask why it is still holding on to your money.
You have YOUR say
Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some in response to our article about an ex-newspaper editor’s showdown with a debt collector:
Parking firms are always a nightmare. I got threatened with bailiffs after I was supposedly parked at a motorway services for ten hours.
I had stopped there on the way to and from work, as I always have done.
L. K., Bristol.
Bailiffs use fear tactics and innocent people can get scared if they show up unannounced. If you aren’t comfortable, make a scene and call 999 if you feel physically threatened.
T. S., Suffolk.
Debt collection agencies are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. If they fail to stick to the rules, they may have their licence taken away.
F. T., by email.
I was chased for three years by an auction site for a £50 debt which had nothing to do with me.
Someone had given the website my details and it sent in the debt collectors. Eventually, the case was dropped.
W. N., Lake District.
My daughter had a similar experience with an aggressive bailiff. The car that had incurred fines last year was registered to her, but at our old address — we had moved 15 years ago.
B. T., West Sussex.
One bailiff barged into my house, using his foot to block the door. It turned out the debt wasn’t mine to pay, but I got no apology from the company.
T. T., Manchester.
The problem is that it can be difficult to find a phone number for these firms, and they often don’t answer emails. People like me end up paying up because it isn’t worth the hassle.
S. P., Southampton, Hants.
Can’t access my private pension
I am a 64-year-old lady who has been living on around £500-a-month employment and support allowance for the past four years.
I have had to subsidise this with my savings, but I no longer have any left. In April this year, I asked a financial adviser to assist me with drawing £5,000 from an Aviva private pension.
Since then, I have been using my credit card to keep me afloat, as I was confident I would receive this money.
I recently spent a long afternoon talking to four or five people at Aviva. They all told me different things, most of which I did not understand.
It transpired that they were explaining that my financial adviser had not provided Aviva with the correct information.
My adviser has confidently assured me that everything is all above board. He says Aviva is a shambles.
B. L., Craigavon, Co. Armagh.
Tony Hazell replies: Aviva says the problem did lie with the information sent by your financial adviser.
It made contact with both you and your adviser after I told it of your difficulties. It explained what details were needed in order to release your tax-free cash.
You tell me that the money recently arrived, which must be a great relief.
Straight to the point
My husband, who recently passed away, had a large collection of pre-decimal coins. Are they worth anything?
M. M., by email.
Dealer Chris Perkins, who runs predecimal.com, says silver coins in normal condition dated up to 1946 are the only ones that will have worthwhile value.
That is because those pre-1920 are 92.5 per cent sterling silver, and those dated between 1920 and 1946 are 50 per cent silver. After this date, coins are usually only worth their face value.
My place in an Ironman triathlon has been rolled over to next year after the September race was cancelled.
But I can’t compete then as I have other events planned for that time. It cost around £250 to enter and I feel the firm is fobbing me off.
P. J., by email
It took the organisers more than a month to respond to my enquiries, but they have now agreed to refund you.
My Dart Charge account, to pay for the Dartford Crossing, was closed because I hadn’t used it for 12 months. What happened to my remaining balance?
M. P., by email.
Highways England says you should have received an email giving you 90 days to reclaim your balance.
If you did not respond, any leftover cash will have been paid to the Department for Transport.
Vodafone owes me £60 after it charged me for three months following my broadband contract cancellation.
I have spent seven hours on the phone chasing this up but have got nowhere.
J. P., Blackpool, Lancs.
The telecoms giant had resolved this by the time I got in touch, but explained that one of its customer advisers had marked the credit as paid by mistake.
You have been refunded and Vodafone has also offered to cover one month of your new contract as a goodwill gesture.
- We love hearing from our loyal readers, so ask that during this challenging time you write to us by email where possible, as we will not pick up letters sent to our postal address as regularly as usual. You can write to: asktony@ dailymail.co.uk or, if you prefer, Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.