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Large sum stolen - Barclays aided the theft and won't help; what do I do?

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starkiegraham
starkiegraham Posts: 1 Newbie
edited 26 September 2022 at 11:19AM in Budgeting & bank accounts
First of all; we don't bank with Barclays...

Second, this was not a scam - it  theft...

Some months ago we sent a cheque we received (from an inheritance) to our bank and somewhere along the way it was stolen.  When it failed to arrive in our account, we went back to the cheque issuer to cancel it and they said it had been paid into an account in our name.  The account details were not ours but the name was. After a lot of persuasion we managed to get the cheque issuer to send us a copy of the cheque from the issuers bank - our account details had been tipexed out and someone elses added in.  From this we figured out it was a Barclays account - so we tried to call them.  We couldn't get through to anyone (after a number of hours of trying) and so we went in to a branch.  We made a complaint and they said it would go to the fraud team.  They also said they would phone us back. They never did.  We have been trying to get them to investigate for weeks - many phone calls (that just go to a useless external customer support team), many emails and returns to the branch.  Eventually we managed to get someone in branch who looked at the account and showed us a few details - it was clearly set up only to receive stolen cheques and the name was changed by deed poll to my wife's name to pay in the cheque.  Unfortunately we don't actually have this evidence even though we saw it on screen.  He said he would email and phone us once he heard from the fraud team and, again, never did.  We have tried to get through to him and the previous people a few times; it appears they have been told not to talk to us!

How can we force Barclays to give us this evidence?

We have been to the police, but they have assigned a constable not a detective and they admit they aren't trained for this sort of thing. We have tried Action Fraud (completely useless - don't bother!). We have contacted the ombudsman - but they could take months to even look at the case.

Meanwhile the thief has emptied the account and has our money.  We have seen a picture of them, yet no-one (well no-one who can do anything) at Barclay's cares, nor will they talk to the police, despite us giving them the crime number and the name and email of the officer.

What can we do?  Is there a way we can get this evidence and chase this ourselves?
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Comments

  • shiraz99
    shiraz99 Posts: 1,740 Forumite
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    As you say, this is theft, and as such a Police matter only. The bank, particularly as it isn't your bank has no responsibility to you at all.
  • biscan25
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    shiraz99 said:
    As you say, this is theft, and as such a Police matter only. The bank, particularly as it isn't your bank has no responsibility to you at all.
    Is this true though? When the criminal aspect is done and dusted, there is a civil aspect as Barclays were clearly negligent in allowing the person to open the account after the name change, and allowing a tip-exed cheque to be paid in.
    Pensions actuary, Runner, Dog parent, Homeowner
  • km1500
    km1500 Posts: 2,439 Forumite
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    I agree - if Barclays accepted a large cheque into a new account with tippexed out changes then it is certainly worth persuing the negligence route

    You could try small claims court against them no idea if it would work but nothing to lose. LBA first. Might even be worth paying for some legal advice first.

    *** mods move this to banking board ?
  • Alderbank
    Alderbank Posts: 3,031 Forumite
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    biscan25 said:
    shiraz99 said:
    As you say, this is theft, and as such a Police matter only. The bank, particularly as it isn't your bank has no responsibility to you at all.
    Is this true though? When the criminal aspect is done and dusted, there is a civil aspect as Barclays were clearly negligent in allowing the person to open the account after the name change, and allowing a tip-exed cheque to be paid in.
    I don't see any prima facie negligence.
    The fraudster presented the legal documentation required for a name change. I don't understand the significance of the payee's 'account details'. You must have account details for other more secure ways of sending money, but a cheque just needs the payee's name and amount in figures (even the amount in words is not a legal requirement).
    The police will probably get round to investigating eventually. The bank account will have been opened with forged identities and will have been closed after the cheque was cleared.

    Nearly 20 years ago The Times published an article:
    Don't send cheques in the post
    The police have warned that people whose cheques are stolen by identity fraudsters have little hope of getting their money back, writes Jessica Bown, The Sunday Times September 24 2006.
    Criminals intercept cheques sent in the mail and then use false identification documents obtained on the internet to open bank accounts, which are then used to cash the cheques. Worse still, banks are refusing to accept responsibility for such frauds — leaving victims out of pocket.


  • MattMattMattUK
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    biscan25 said:
    shiraz99 said:
    As you say, this is theft, and as such a Police matter only. The bank, particularly as it isn't your bank has no responsibility to you at all.
    Is this true though? When the criminal aspect is done and dusted, there is a civil aspect as Barclays were clearly negligent in allowing the person to open the account after the name change, and allowing a tip-exed cheque to be paid in.
    It is complicated, but the bank appears to have failed the AML rules but that is a regulatory issue rather than directly related to you.

    I do not thing that this would be particularly easy to resolve and might require a lot of further action. Speak to Citizen's Advice, write to your MP, write to the consumer finance correspondent in The Guardian etc.

    How did you send the cheque to Barclays and who issued it? 
  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 31,991 Forumite
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    We made a complaint

    [...]

    We have contacted the ombudsman - but they could take months to even look at the case
    Is the Barclays complaint still open or has it been closed (and if so, why)?

    Once you've been through their formal complaints process you can escalate to FOS after eight weeks (or sooner if Barclays issues a final response that you're not happy with), which seems worth pursuing to me - there's no point in choosing not to do so solely on the basis of how long it's likely to take, this is really unlikely to be resolved quickly whatever you do.

    Regarding the potential for court action, what's the amount involved?

    Unfortunately it'll be difficult for you to pursue this without evidence, and Barclays aren't obliged to provide this to you, especially if there's already some sort of police investigation, although FOS may expect them to disclose more than they'd share with you directly....
  • jon81uk
    jon81uk Posts: 3,793 Forumite
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    The details on a cheque that matters is whats on the front, they aren't particularly secure as far as a form of payment as they basically promise the person named on there will get the money. They are not significantly more secure than cash.

    Anything written on the back is just for the information of the bank you are paying into, you may have quite legitimately needed to tipp-ex and change those details.

    The fraud/theft is the theif intercepting the post and paying into another bank account with your name.
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 14,841 Forumite
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    Thinking about it, who is the victim here? Isn't there an argument that the drawer of the cheque still owes the OP the money? After all, they would if the cheque had simply been lost in the post. Does the payee take on the risk of this sort of fraud?
  • biscan25
    biscan25 Posts: 452 Forumite
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    edited 23 September 2022 at 3:55PM
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    Reading into this, you (via the person that wrote the cheque) could be getting your money back eventually.

    The crime that has been committed is not theft, but cheque fraud.
    Thinking about the liability of the bank, they have fallen short in two aspects:

    • The opening of the account. Provided the AML checks have been completed and documented correctly, the bank should be ok here. Probably won't find out until it gets to the Ombudsman stage. If a big cheque was paid in quickly, this should have sent alarm bells ringing as this is a common pattern for fraud. See https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/decision/DRN1655148.pdf
    .
    • The bigger one, The cheque, having been altered, is clearly invalid. I'm not aware of any more recent legislation, so I'm relying on section 64 of the Bills of Exchange Act of 1882. 

    Where a bill or acceptance is materially altered without the assent of all parties liable on the bill, the bill is avoided except as against a party who has himself made, authorised, or assented to the alteration, and subsequent indorsers.Provided that,Where a bill has been materially altered, but the alteration is not apparent, and the bill is in the hands of a holder in due course, such holder may avail himself of the bill as if it had not been altered, and may enforce payment of it according to its original tenor.

    (2)In particular the following alterations are material, namely, any alteration of the date, the sum payable, the time of payment, the place of payment, and, where a bill has been accepted generally, the addition of a place of payment without the acceptor’s assent.

    So Barclays have accepted an invalid cheque.

    I'm not sure on the amount but if it is very substantial, please consider obtaining legal advice. Opinions on a forum are a poor substitute.

    Pensions actuary, Runner, Dog parent, Homeowner
  • Clive_Woody
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    In your situation I would be contacting one of these people in the press (select paper of your choice) who market themselves as People's Champions and I suspect would be interested in a story like this...and the opportunity to "name and shame" Barclays.

    Often this kind of action prompts a more rapid review and response from the banks.
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