An angry victim of fraud who was scammed out of £40,000 was then seemingly mocked by bank staff.
The internal email, joking after the scam, was accidentally forwarded to the victim by staff at NatWest.
Dozens of other scam victims have told the BBC that they were unhappy with NatWest’s response to their losses after being tricked out of large sums by fraudsters posing as their bank.
NatWest apologised for the email’s tone and defended its anti-fraud policy.
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The fraud involves criminals posing as the bank, using spoofed bank telephone numbers and texts, then persuading the unsuspecting customer to move money into the criminals’ accounts.
The victims are persuaded that their genuine account has been hacked, but actually that is just a trick pulled by the fraudsters to make their victims transfer money which they never see again. Most have lost nearly £20,000.
Struggling for help
BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme has been told of dozens of identical cases by victims, with only one having the payment stopped and few receiving their money back.
Some of the victims have been angry with the bank’s inconsistent response after they fell victim to the fraud. One said she was left alone in a room in a branch for three hours on the telephone, trying to receive help.
NatWest said it appreciated that she had gone through a very distressing experience. “We would never ask a customer to move money to another account to keep it safe from scams or fraud and would remind our customers that they should never make a payment or divulge full security credentials at the request of someone over the phone,” a spokesman added.
Another victim, Lawrence, a doctor in a busy specialist clinic in the North West of England, received an email that was supposed to be a message between staff in the bank’s chief executive’s office.
When he realised he might have been the victim of a scam he contacted the real NatWest. He was unhappy with the bank’s response and wanted to know everything NatWest had done to stop his £40,000 pounds going to criminals, so he asked for a form so he could get copies of telephone conversations that had been had with NatWest’s fraud department.
The form arrived, but so did a copy of an internal email between staff.
It said: “I never fill them in for or on behalf of a customer and I always insist on them sending the completed form to the address on the form.
“I do like to make it as difficult as possible – I’m bad lol.”
A furious Lawrence said he felt they were simply mocking him.
“I’ve been a customer of 35 years of NatWest and it sums up the bank’s attitude about its customers, which is actually an utter disregard and disrespect and contempt for victims of fraud like myself,” he said.
“For me it looks like they’re having a laugh.”
NatWest said it “unreservedly apologised” for the content of the email and it “deeply regrets the distress it caused to Lawrence”.
The bank said it would take action internally to address what happened and that, as a goodwill gesture, would refund Lawrence in full.
Addressing the wider concerns, it said: “While we cannot divulge our fraud prevention strategies, NatWest uses a risk-based approach when deciding if a payment is suspicious.
“A combination of factors can prompt further enquiries into certain payments and these are continually adjusted to meet the fraud and scam trends prevalent at any given time. Furthermore, we review each case on its own merit.”
NatWest urged anyone who received a money transfer request from someone claiming to be from the bank to turn it down, and report it immediately to their bank on a phone number they could trust.
Full names have not been used owing to the nature of the case