A young woman has gone viral after speaking out about falling victim to a scam that saw her lose "every penny" she had. Emmeline Harltey, a student and actor, shared her experience of receiving a text from con artists posing as the Royal Mail, which then lead to the scammers calling her and pretending to be from her bank, Barclays.
Posting the full story on her Twitter account, in the hopes of warning others, Hartley wrote: "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 #royalmailscam #safeaccountscam".
She then explained that because her birthday was approaching, when she received a text from 'Royal Mail' claiming that she needed to pay £2.99 in order to receive a parcel, that she believed it was legitimate. Hartley says she even checked the Royal Mail's website, before deciding it was safe and entered her bank details.
A couple of days later, Hartley says she was contacted by 'Barclays' saying that somebody had tried to set up direct debits in her name to Vodafone, Currys/PC World and that an attempt to spend £300 on Argos products had been made.
"The next bit is going to sound stupid, but I was so embarrassed by my stupidity of falling for the Royal Mail scam, shocked and scared that somebody had been trying to use my card," Hartley says, before explaining that because the man on the other end of the phone knew so many details about her, that she thought it was a legitimate call from her bank – so she transferred all the money she had into her new 'safe account'.
"This guy was plausible, professional and understanding and I just fell for it," she says, according to a BBC report. The person on the other end of the phone then said that because Hartley had entered her banking information following the fraudulent Royal Mail text that she'd need to transfer all of her money into a new account in order to keep it safe, while waiting for a new card to be issued.
Hartley also notes in her tweet that she even checked the number the scammer was calling from and it showed online as being the same number as the Barclays fraud team, showing just how sophisticated and hard to spot these scams can really be.
It was after being told to also clear her overdraft (which she did not have), Hartley says she began to realise something wasn't right. "Despite knowing deep down that something wasn't right, I tried to transfer the sum of money he told me to transfer," she recalls. "It didn't work, confirming what I guess I already knew. I broke down in tears and he hung up."
Hartley then called the real Barclays bank, who explained the scam she'd been duped into believing is unfortunately a popular one. "After several hours [on the phone to my actual bank], they'd cancelled my cards, issued new ones and launched an investigation into my fraud claim," she adds. "They said that this a very common scam known as the 'Safe Account scam'."
A spokesperson for Barclays told the BBC: "No genuine bank would message you to transfer money to a 'safe account' - we advise any customers to ignore anyone who asks to do this, whether it's by phone, email or any other method."
Cosmopolitan has reached out to Barclays for further comment.
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