Scammer bought £3,000 worth of flights on my card: how do I get it back?

In early February I was scammed by someone claiming to be my banker. They said that fraudulent transactions had been made with my credit card and I believed this to be legit as this person had my card number, expiration date and CVC number.

They said they would send a cancellation code to my phone to stop the transactions I had to redo them.

But that code turned out to be a one-time passcode that allowed scammers to use my card to make online purchases.

The money was used to buy flights with travel agency Flights Guru, which cost £3,005.


I reported this to Flights Guru as soon as I noticed but they didn’t cancel the booking and just told me that the legal department was looking into it.

My bank, First Direct, is refusing to give me a refund because I gave the scammers the one-time passcode that allowed the transaction to go through.

I have asked the bank to treat it as a Section 75 which they say they will not do as I have no proof of purchase. Obviously I can’t get that as I didn’t buy the flights. MT, via email

Helen Crane of This is Money responds: Unfortunately, scams are becoming more persuasive — and scammers are finding new ways to trick people into handing over their money.

We are in the midst of a fraud epidemic, with a total of £4 billion lost to fraud in 2022 – almost two-thirds more than the year before, according to comparison site People of all ages and backgrounds can and do become victims.

Banks try to stay one step ahead of scammers by imposing tighter controls on when people transfer money or buy things online.


In our weekly column, This is Money consumer expert Helen Crane tackles reader woes and sheds light on companies doing both good and bad.

Would you like her to investigate an issue, or would you like to commend a company for going that extra mile? Get in touch:

In recent years, they have introduced one-time passwords when buying online.

These are sent to the customer’s mobile phone as an SMS or within their banking app, and the customer must enter the passcode into a widget on the website before the money is withdrawn.

It’s designed to stop scammers since they don’t have access to the customer’s cellphone — but unfortunately, as your case shows, criminals are already becoming familiar with this tactic and finding ways to circumvent it.

After being told someone was trying to withdraw money from your account, you panicked and gave the code to the person on the phone who you thought was trying to help you – resulting in a 3,005 hole £ resulted in your bank balance.

You told me something didn’t feel right as soon as you hung up. They called First Direct and Flights Guru but it was too late to stop the transaction.

You couldn’t use Section 75 because that protection is reserved for purchases that customers made legitimately – but didn’t live up to expectations.

Should First Direct have refunded you immediately? There’s an argument that it should.

Like most major banks, First Direct’s parent company HSBC has subscribed to a voluntary code of practice called the CRM Code, overseen by the Lending Standards Board, which requires it to provide refunds to innocent fraud victims in certain scenarios.

But when a customer has given a scammer a passcode, banks sometimes argue that they are liable for the scam and therefore decide not to issue a refund.

In banks’ defense, the text messages they send typically ask the recipient not to share the passcode with anyone — even someone claiming to be from the bank itself.

I have contacted both First Direct and Flights Guru to try and get your money back.

Fake call: MT received a call from someone saying it was from their bank - but it turned out to be a scammer using their card details, requiring a one-time passcode to buy flights

Fake call: MT received a call from someone saying it was from their bank – but it turned out to be a scammer using their card details, requiring a one-time passcode to buy flights

Flight’s guru was quick to respond and I spoke to his commercial manager, Liam Brophy.

He said the reason the company didn’t refund you right away was because it’s often fraudulent itself.

He told me that customers sometimes call and ask to cancel a flight booking, and then when their money has been returned, they also request a chargeback from their credit card company – which means they get the money twice at Flights Guru’s expense.

The time limit for a chargeback claim is 120 days, so Flights Guru initially wanted to wait until that time has passed to pay you back.

After I spoke to the company, you agreed to write to the company confirming that you would not file a chargeback claim and Flights Guru processed the refund within a few days.

It withheld £155 to pay for the fees that airlines would incur if the flights were canceled.

After Flights Guru refunded you, First Direct got in touch with you. Unfortunately, since you gave the passcode to the scammer despite warnings in the SMS, they hold you liable for the scam.

How to protect yourself against identity fraud

Ross Martin, Head of Digital Safety at Barclays, offers the following advice:

1) Be wary of unexpected calls or messages

Scammers often make calls or messages appear to be from someone you know or from a well-known organization such as a bank or the police. If you are ever unsure, you should end the call immediately and call a number you trust. Never give remote access to your computer or device to someone who called you unexpectedly.

2) Never click on links in messages you are not sure about

Scammers can make their messages appear to come from a person or organization you know. Never click a link in a message without asking yourself if you were expecting this message, as this can be a way for them to steal your personal information. If you’re not sure, call the person or company directly (using a number you trust) to confirm if they need to reach you.

3) Don’t be fooled into transferring your money to a “secure account”.

A trusted organization or bank will never tell you that your funds are at risk or that you need to transfer them to a “secure account”. If this happens, it is a scam – end the conversation immediately.

However, it has also agreed to refund you the outstanding £155 as a goodwill gesture, meaning you are all right now.

A spokesman said: “Protecting our customers from fraud is our absolute priority and we are sorry to hear that MT has been the victim of a scam. We fully investigate each case and follow the CRM Code to ensure fair and reasonable outcomes for our clients.

“On this occasion, MT shared the one-time passcode with a scammer, which allowed the transaction to be processed. We are aware that she has now received a refund of £2,850 from the travel company and have refunded the cancellation fee as a goodwill gesture.

“As this case demonstrates, scammers are criminals who use a variety of techniques to exploit their victims and convince them of their authenticity. We would like to remind all customers that First Direct would never ask a customer for their one-time passcode. We advise people to remain vigilant and always heed scam alerts.’

Online shoppers are encouraged to report rip-offs

Scam tactics: The government is urging online shoppers to report retailers who try to lure them into spending more with fake

Scam tactics: The government is urging online shoppers to report retailers who try to lure them into spending more with fake “sales” and squeezing tactics

As the cost of almost everything we buy continues to rise, people are looking for a bargain more than ever.

That often means scouring around online to make sure you’re getting the best deal – but unfortunately sometimes those deals are too good to be true.

The Competition and Markets Authority – a government agency that makes sure businesses are acting fairly – wants shoppers to report rip-offs when they see them and has launched a new website where they can report them.

It wants shoppers to tell it about retailers using heavy-handed sales tactics and other underhanded tricks to trick them into parting with more money.

This can include misleading claims about discounts or rebates, hidden taxes or fees, getting customers signed up for subscriptions they don’t want, or using fabricated customer reviews to make their products sound better than they are.

It also wants them to invoke “urgency tactics”, i.e. when retailers are trying to close a quick sale, by telling shoppers there are only a few items left, or by setting a countdown clock to the end of a “deal” for example. have.

I get a lot of complaints from readers about this kind of unscrupulous behavior and I’m glad to see that there is now an easy way to call retailers.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on this, we may earn a small commission. This helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow a business relationship to compromise our editorial independence. Scammer bought £3,000 worth of flights on my card: how do I get it back?

Drew Weisholtz

Drew Weisholtz is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Drew Weisholtz joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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