Last week I received a phone call from ‘John Martin from Manchester’ who sounded more like Mukesh from Mumbai. He said that his company, ‘Claims Advisory Group’, had been commissioned by the Government to find people who had paid excessive Bank Charges. If this proved to be the case ‘Claims Advisory Group’ would pursue a claim and compensation. In my case the cash-back would be somewhere between £3000 and £5000.
Expecting the usual devious attempts to get my personal bank details I was surprised when all ‘John Martin’ wanted was to confirm my address, the name of my bank and my date of birth. (Oddly he also wanted to know if I could physically get to the bank to pay in a cheque!) He asked his questions in a rather unusual way. He would read out his question followed by an abrupt “Right? …Your date of birth is the 28th December 1944. Right? You bank with the Nationwide. Right?”
He closed the call by giving me a ‘Personal 8 Number Passcode’ and telling me that his manager would phone me tomorrow. Once that was done his company, ‘Claims Advisory Group’, would send me a cheque.
Now this really did sound too good to be true. All I had to do was confirm my address and date of birth and they would send me a cheque. I phoned up my bank to ask if they knew of any government scheme to pay back excessive bank charges. They didn’t - and neither had my financial adviser. The advice from both parties was the same. ‘Claims Advisory Group’ didn’t seem to be doing anything illegal or underhand but I should steer clear. Finally I looked up ‘Claims Advisory Group’ on the web. They did exist. They were based in Manchester and they did appear to be above board - but their website was surrounded by others warning ‘Scam’!
The following day ‘Sean’, Mr Martin’s manager from Manchester, phoned me back and asked for my ‘Personal 8 Number Passcode’. After rechecking my personal details again. “Your date of birth is the 28th December 1944. Right? You bank with the Nationwide. Right?” he said that the cheque would be shortly on its way and it would be worth £3,600. Then came a hiccup. The manager said that the actual claim request had been put to my bank by a solictor Mr Graham Robinson. The cheque was signed and was ready to post on to me… which was odd because when they had asked for the name of my bank the day before I had deliberately mislead them. I had said ‘Nationwide’ rather than ‘NatWest’. Mr Martin’s manager from Manchester then said that the only formality needed to compete the claim was I had to pay the solicitor Graham Robinson 8% of the total reimbursement = £288. I chewed the matter over for a moment or two and then said, “Do I really have to pay this money before I receive the cheque?”
At this point the phone was firmly put down convincing me that I was caught up in a scam. I phoned ‘Claims Advisory Group’ in Manchester. Their representative told me that the company was a bona fide ‘claims recovery’ organisation and would never ask for any payment before the claimant had actually received their claim. They added that they were also suffering from the scam as the fraudsters had effectively stolen their identity and bona fides.
Claims Advisory Group in Manchester have invited any readers who have experienced similar scams using their company name to contact them on 0800 027 9592 or:- firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone affected by other types of scams or frauds should contact the Action Fraud Helpline on 0300-123-2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk