Why you need to watch out for this 'Royal Mail' scam that went viral on Twitter

·5-min read
A Twitter user has issued a warning after she was scammed (Getty)
A Twitter user has issued a warning after she was scammed (Getty)

A woman who was “scammed out of every penny” she had, has taken to Twitter to warn others against a scam that purports to be from Royal Mail and Barclays.

Emmeline Hartley, a drama student, says she moved £1,000 out of her account after a man claiming to be from Barclays called her phone.

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She shared her story on Twitter, writing: “I mentioned yesterday that I’d been scammed out of every penny I had. Thought I’d post what happened in case it helps anyone avoid being in the same position. Please save the lectures, I don’t think it’s possible for me to feel any stupider.”

The tweet has gone viral with over 23,000 ‘likes’ and nearly 2,000 comments.

The Birmingham-based student said that the previous Friday she received a text from Royal Mail asking her to pay a £2.99 additional postage fee.

“I didn’t know about the scam and I even checked the website and I thought it was legit. Given that it was my birthday on Saturday, I knew a couple of packages were on their way and have had to pay additional postage fees before so thought nothing else of it. I put my bank details in,” Hartley wrote.

She continued, saying that she received a phone call from a person claiming to be calling from Barclays bank to say that someone had tried to set up direct debits from her account and that a transaction of £300 had been attempted at Argos.

“They took me through security before cancelling my cards and issuing new ones, saying they would take 3-5 days to arrive,” Hartley added.

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She said the man on the end of the phone said they needed to generate a new sort code and account, which they did while she was on the phone.

The man then asked her to transfer all of her money into her new account and she said at this point she asked how she could know if he was really from Barclays.

“He gave me some more information about myself that I had not yet given, as well as the balances of my account. By this time I had forgotten that I had actually disclosed the bank balances to him as part of the security questions at the start,” Hartley continued.

She said she also checked the number he was calling from and it was the official Barclays fraud contact number. So she transferred “everything she had” in two different instalments.

“This man knew it was my birthday, he knew I have been excluded from government support during the pandemic due to being newly self-employed, he knew I am a student and he knew I currently have no meaningful income. He knew all those things because of how profusely I thanked him for protecting my money,” Hartley said.

“Yet he had no shame in watching me clear out all of my accounts to £0.”

Hartley said it only dawned on her what was happening when he asked her to transfer over her overdraft, which she didn’t have. She said she “broke down in tears” as the man hung up.

“The reason it didn’t trigger an alert on Barclays' system is because he made me transfer it over in smaller instalments,” she added.

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After “several hours” on the phone to actual Barclays, Hartley said they cancelled her cards and have launched an investigation into the fraud claim.

“They said that this is a very common scam known as the ‘Safe Account scam’,” Hartley explained. “I think a lot of people have heard that term floating about but throughout the entire call the guy never once said ‘safe account’ so it didn’t trigger any alarm bells.”

She was also told that there was no guarantee she would get reimbursed for the money stolen.

“I am usually very good at not falling for scams but this one caught me off-guard at a pretty vulnerable time in my life,” Hartley said. "I thought I had done my due diligence but it was not enough."

Since sharing her story, Hartley said scammers are now copying her account to try and get money from the people who have commented in support of her.

Twitter users were quick to tell of similar scams they have experienced, with one user writing: “I had a similar text and the link took me to a very convincing looking website (there’s a warning on it now). I had just sent some parcels and was almost convinced myself. Easy to see how people can be conned this way.”

To report scams, contact https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ and for advice call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.

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