‘Mugged for £20k – bank won’t repay’
Huw Price was beaten up and the robbers went on a spending spree with his card, but NatWest won’t help. Sam Barker reports
Eight months after he was robbed of more than £20,000 a NatWest customer is still in a stand-off with the bank, which has refused to repay any of the stolen money. Huw Price, 19, was beaten up and robbed in the early hours of Dec 2 last year in Vauxhall, south London. Two men approached him outside the railway station and invited him to go with them to a nearby club. Mr Price said he went along with the idea as he had been drinking.
The last thing he remembers from that night is walking with the men. After that, he can recall nothing until the next day.
During that time, Mr Price had been beaten up and robbed of his wallet and phone. A dog walker discovered him in a nearby park at around 9.30am and called an ambulance. The ambulance call-out records, seen by Telegraph Money, show that Mr Price was found unconscious, with blood on his face and having difficulty breathing.
He did not regain full consciousness for another 12 hours. He said: “The next thing I know, I woke up in hospital on Saturday night at 10pm.”
After waking up, he called NatWest and discovered that his account was already missing £23,335.
Most of the money was from an inheritance. He said this made the loss “doubly painful”.
He added: “I shouldn’t have had it all in my current account. But you think it’s safe in your account – until you get mugged.”
He said he thought that whoever stole the money used his thumbprint without his permission to unlock his phone, where he had saved his Pin.
The robbers went on a hugely costly spending spree with Mr Price’s card. At 9.10am, 20 minutes before the ambulance was dispatched to him, they spent £700 in a south London Argos store.
Twenty minutes later they bought £543 worth of goods in JD Sports. But the robbers were just getting warmed up.
At 12.10pm, £985 was spent in one transaction in Selfridges. At 12.27pm another £850 was spent in the same store, then £1,595 seven minutes later and £1,139 just five minutes after that.
The emboldened robbers then spent £1,400 in jewellery shop The Diamond Box. The largest single transaction was £8,300, spent in a branch of Westside, the clothes shop, at 4.20pm, followed by £1,200 in the same outlet.
The bank would not comment on why it allowed such large sums of money to leave Mr Price’s account.
When Mr Price called NatWest after waking up on Dec 2, it cancelled the card. But despite the cancellation, and the unusually large sums that were spent in a single day, NatWest continued to let the cash leave Mr Price’s account during the week following the attack.
The Metropolitan Police is investigating the incident and has arrested one person in connection with it.
A spokesman said: “Police are investigating a robbery in Kennington on Saturday Dec 2 2017. A number of items were stolen during the attack, including the victim’s bank card and mobile phone. A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of fraud on Sunday April 22. He has since been released under investigation. Officers from Lambeth CID are investigating. Inquiries continue.”
Despite the police investigation, NatWest has refused to repay Mr Price any of the money. He appealed against this decision but the bank refused to change its mind.
The City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, says banks must refund customers for any unauthorised payments within one day of being made aware of the loss, unless they suspect the person making the claim to be part of the fraud.
NatWest has not given Mr Price a reason for its refusal to repay the money. At the time of the robbery he was living in London, but has now moved back to his parents’ house in Brecon, south Wales.
Chris Davies, Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, is fighting Mr Price’s cause. He said he had written to NatWest about the matter and was still waiting for a response.
He said: “I’m pursuing the bank on Huw’s behalf. I think he’s been treated most unfairly. I have no reason to doubt him or his family that all this
‘The stance NatWest has taken is very firm. It has stopped my whole life’
is correct, and I’d like to get to the bottom of it and know what the bank is going to do to help.
“It is a pity that an MP and a national newspaper have to get involved to try to get justice in cases like this.”
Mr Price said the event had taken a huge toll on his health. He said: “The stance NatWest has taken is very firm. It has stopped my whole life.” NatWest has closed his account and Mr Price said he did not want to set up another one until the situation had been resolved.
“I have a bad feeling that there is a fraud mark behind my name and it will make it hard to set up another bank account,” he said.
The bank has advised Mr Price to go to the Financial Ombudsman Service if he is unhappy with its decision. Mr Price said he did not want to do this as he had little faith in the ombudsman following an exposé by the Channel 4 programme Dispatches in March, which found that staff with poor training were judging cases. However, he said he would go to the ombudsman or the courts if left with no other choice.
Following the intervention of Telegraph Money and Mr Davies, the bank has now agreed to review Mr Price’s case.
A NatWest spokesman said: “We take all instances of fraud very seriously and undertake a thorough assessment of all fraud reported to us. We are currently undertaking a review of Mr Price’s case and are therefore unable to comment at this time.”