‘Mugged for £20k – bank won’t re­pay’

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - FRONT PAGE -

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.”

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