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Title: Conned out of £4,000

Date: 25 February 2015

I have just lost £4000.00 because I fell for a scam email when looking to buy a used bike. I received an email saying my money would be held in a secure PayPal account until delivery. The email looked so genuine and had a link attached to enable online chat to "PayPal". Of course I wasn't chatting to PayPal but the conman who tricked me into transferring £4000.00 to him. I feel so stupid and silly, my bank doesn’t want to help and say they can't do anything. I have referred this to the Action Fraud Police, is there anything else I can do to get my money back?

Anonymous

This is not the first case I have heard like this and unfortunately there is very little you can do from a legal perspective.

Had you used a credit card to make a direct payment then you could potentially have reclaimed the money from the credit card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Debit cards do not enjoy the same protection, though some banks subscribe to a voluntary scheme called ‘Chargeback’ which is similar, though subject to each participating bank’s own rules.

However, because you used an intermediary (Paypal) to transfer the money neither of the above applies because the bank would argue that they did not have a direct relationship with the supplier.

In terms of a potential civil case it may well be that the fraudster is not resident in the UK and used disposable accounts to take your money. On that basis it would be very difficult to identify him and, even if you did, he may not have sufficient assets to satisfy any claim brought against him. The costs of doing so would likely far outweigh the potential benefit. That said, see if the police track him down to this country and it could then be worthwhile pursuing him.

Finally, while some online scams can be identified by poor spelling, odd phrasing or a lack of knowledge, the more technically astute, like the one you have been subject to, avoid these pitfalls and utilise copies of familiar and trusted websites to lure you into a false sense of security. On that basis, in practical terms, if you have any doubt I would recommend exercising caution and conducting research before committing to buying a bike online.

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