Martin Lewis: "Scammers convinced me to remortgage my home after I lost £11,000"

"The UK is facing an epidemic of scams so I want to tool you up on how to fight them," Martin Lewis explained as he opened up this week's ITV Money Show.

"Today's scammers are sophisticated and dangerous. It can happen to anyone – solicitors, university lecturers, and even the most technologically savvy. We're now exposed to devious scammers across the globe – and it's out of control.

"It used to be advertised on the TV and radio, and it was regulated by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), but it doesn't work like that anymore. We live in a wild west and the ASA don't have any power over the latest threat.

"How many of you have seen adverts with me in advertising Bitcoin Traders? There's no such thing as a Bitcoin Trader and you can't 'get rich quick' through it.

"Three years ago an angry man demanded money from me saying I guaranteed his Bitcoin returns. He said I'd let him down. In reality, he'd clicked on an advert online that took him to a fake page with my face on, promising a get rich quick scheme.

"If you see an advert online with a famous face in it you need to question its legitimacy," Martin explained.

In another case, he spoke of a woman who had put the money for her grandchildren, who had recently lost their parents, into a Bitcoin platform online.

She said it was all because she "trusted Martin Lewis" – and he warned that these scams are still out there.


  • 'Natwest blocked my bank account and told me to go to a foodbank for Christmas'

  • 'I was a 15-year-old money mule after criminals hired me at the school gate'

"For a start, I don't do adverts," Martin clarified.

He then spoke to another woman who revealed she'd been conned by online Bitcoin advertisers promising huge returns on her savings.

"I started with £250," she said. "This then went up and up as I kept on losing. Eventually I found myself £11,000 out of pocket.

"It was a crypto-currency investment company – and now my money has disappeared.

"When I lost it all, they got in touch advising me to remortgage my house. When I said no they refused to trade with me anymore. That's when they told me I wasn't going to get a penny back.

"Even now they're still ringing me. Last week they called to say their previous broker has now left and that I should invest more money to win some of my losses back.

"I refused them, but they continued to make me feel guilty."

Devastated, Martin said there's little that can be done to recoup her savings at this point – but he issued a major warning for anyone looking to transfer money for a product.

"If you're paying for an expensive product never do it by bank transfer," he said.

"Do it by debit or credit card, not cash or cheque. This will give you some protection."

What are the scam warning signs?

These are the warning signs Martin says you should watch out for online, over email, by phone, letter or even text message.

Watch out for search results that say 'advert'. This means they have paid to be there, so be aware of it and continue scrolling.

HMRC will never text, call or email you about a tax rebate.

Scammers will always try and persuade you that it's 'urgent' and that you should keep it quiet.

If 'someone from your bank' contacts you to tell you to move money into another account for security reasons, it's fake.

If 'your bank' contacts you to tell you it's sending a courier to your home to pick up your card because 'it is fraudulent', it's a scam. If in doubt, cut your card up instead.

If your passwords have changed without warning, that's a danger sign. You can check if your passwords have been compromised using this have I been PWNED tool.

If your post has disappeared, contact the person/company in question.

If your wheelie bin has gone missing, question it.

If you receive an out of the blue message that's full of grammatical errors, be suspicious.

If you notice an unknown product on your credit file, question it.

I've been defrauded – can I get my money back?

"If you made a payment to a scammer under the guise that it was a legitimate purchase, you do have rights," Martin said.

"This is thanks to new rules introduced last year under a Voluntary code of Practice by major banks.

"Under these rules, banks must now take extra care when detecting high risk payments and supporting vulnerable customers.

"To refuse a pay out, the bank must now be able to prove you've been careless."

These are the refund guidelines for customers whose banks and building societies are registered on the scheme. Find out more on what banks are included and how it works, here.

  • If the bank is at fault: The bank must issue a full refund

  • If no-one is at fault: A refund will be issued to the customer from a 'collective' pot made up of all of the lenders in the scheme.

  • If both parties are to blame: The customer will be offered a partial refund.

  • If it's the customer's fault: No refund will be issued.

If you think you've been wrongly assessed, you are also within your rights to escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman for an impartial review.

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