Annual Financial Awareness Campaign
18-24 March 2024

Phillipa was pressured to take out loan to cover investments

Philipa invested $250 in Bitcoin with a company she found online. Her investment of $250 appeared to yield rewards which were transferred to her bank account. An investment manager then asked if they could set up remote desktop software on Phillipa’s computer which allowed the investment manager to remotely access her computer and set up a SEPA payee.

The investment manager then encouraged Phillipa to invest €50,000 based on her success with $250. As she did not have access to €50,000, Phillipa was encouraged to borrow it, although she was reluctant to do so.

When Phillipa was turned down for a loan of €50,000, her investment manager encouraged her to try again and apply for €20,000. Phillipa did this, telling the bank that the loan was to cover home improvements and the loan was granted.

Phillipa transferred the €20,000 to the trading company but then started to hear things about it that worried her, so she asked it to give her the money back. It told her that it was a very bad time to cash out. When she insisted on getting the money back the trader showed her a trading screen (using remote desktop software) that showed her investment dropping dramatically. She was told that she needed to give it another €10,000 to save her account. The trading company offered to go 50/50 and would put up €5,000 if she did. Phillipa was then told that her investment had risen again, but to get hold of it she would need to deposit over €5,000 in an escrow account. Phillipa was very concerned at this stage and contacted the relevant authorities who confirmed it was a scam.

Phillipa wanted her bank to try to get back all the money. She had used her credit card for some of the investments and wanted the bank to use the chargeback system to dispute them (a way of disputing transactions on a debit or credit card, or transactions where the supplier did not deliver the goods or services paid for). The bank accepted there were service issues around its implementation of the chargeback process and offered to give Phillipa back the money she had spent from her credit card account, where she had used it to pay off some of the loan.

However, the bank said there was nothing it could do about the money transferred by SEPA, as it had no chargeback rights and it had been authorised by Phillipa using her online banking. Both parties agreed to this resolution, by mediation settlement in full and final settlement of the dispute.