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HSBC customer loses $35,000 in fake OneComm text scam

HSBC has been accused of “not being bothered” by a customer scammed out of thousands of dollars from accounts at the bank (File photograph)

A man scammed out of $35,000 via a fake text message falsely claiming to be from One Communications has warned people to be vigilant as he complained about the “offensive” way the situation has been handled by HSBC.

Raj Hegde said that when he reported the incident to the bank, he was told that “a lot of people are losing money” through such scams.

Mr Hegde, 53, a sub-editor at The Royal Gazette, said he was wrongly told three times by HSBC that the money had been returned to his accounts only to then be informed that the $35,000 had “disappeared”.

He said that he felt “angry and offended” by the way he had been treated by HSBC, stating the bank did not want to listen to him since the fraud occurred on June 16.

When Mr Hegde filed a complaint with the police, an officer told him that he had received the same scam message twice.

The scam operates via a text falsely appearing to be from OneComm regarding a payment query.

It states: “One: We were unable to process your last bill payment. To avoid service suspension, update your details via onedebit.onebermuda.net.”

Mr Hegde said: “I received the text early in the morning. I was still sleepy and clicked on it because I thought my payment hadn’t gone through. it took me to a webpage.

“It asked me how much I usually pay with various options and I clicked on one of them — the point of this was apparently to verify that all my details were correct.

“And then it took me to the HSBC banking app. somehow it opened the app on my phone.

“It didn’t say ‘you’ve got to pay this or that’, all it did was ask me what the maximum amount that I paid a month for the phone was.

“After a wait of ten minutes the OneComm homepage comes up and says everything’s fine.

“Then I called OneComm to ask them if my payment had gone through. They said they had not sent a text message and they would never do that.

“That’s when I realised I had been scammed and immediately called up HSBC.”

Mr Hegde said he was then connected to a call centre overseas and after explaining the situation was told that two payments — $30,000 from his savings account and $5,000 from his current account — had been made to a company.

They then told Mr Hegde they would investigate, stop his online banking and that he should call them back in two weeks.

After a fortnight he was told the investigation was still continuing and that they would call him back.

Mr Hegde said he was not called back and tried the bank again after a further two weeks when he was wrongly told on three occasions that the money had been credited to his account.

He said: “When I went back into my account, no money there.”

After a number of “frustrating” calls to HSBC, Mr Hegde went in person to the bank’s main branch in Hamilton and says he was told by a staff member: “Yes, we have had a lot of customers who have lost their money like that.”

He was then told the manager would call him and was then contacted by a more junior member of staff saying that the matter was still under investigation.

Mr Hegde returned to the bank to complain about the situation and was told he would be telephoned within five days.

When no one did call, he went back to HSBC again and was told “the money went to Wells Fargo in the US, we are in touch with Wells Fargo and all we can do is wait for them to respond”.

He said: “I kept asking them why does the money disappear so instantly? If I send a bit of money to my non-HSBC account in London it takes a whole day for the transfer to go through.

“Why did I lose my money from two accounts — not just the current account attached to my card, but the savings account too?

“Someone managed to break into my savings account and these guys are saying, “no, it’s got nothing to do with us”.

“I said to them, ‘I’m the victim here — you have got to catch whoever that was at Wells Fargo who took out the money because that guy is a crook’.

“I just feel like HSBC is trying to wash its hands of the matter. What I am offended by is the way these guys have acted. No one at HSBC seems to be bothered.

“I am angry, but I don’t even know who to talk to because every number that I call goes to a call centre abroad. It’s maddening.

“I’m worried about whether I will get the money back.”

Despite Mr Hegde stating he was waiving his right to client confidentiality in the matter, HSBC said it could not comment on individual clients.

The bank ignored general questions on how many customers had been impacted by scammers in the past year and how much money had been fraudulently taken from accounts.

A spokeswoman said: “We strongly encourage clients not to click on links contained in e-mails or text messages and not to enter personal or banking information into websites that those links then connect to.”

A OneComm spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette: “Our customer data was not compromised in any way.

“It is likely that the fraudsters would have used a computer number generator to randomly target Bermuda mobile numbers.

“Upon becoming aware of the phishing text messages, One Communications promptly took action by issuing a notification on social media to inform our valued customers.

“Our network engineers swiftly and successfully blocked the incoming international mobile numbers responsible for these messages and internet access to the fraudulent website to prevent any further inconvenience to our customers.”

• Have you been affected? E-mail news@royalgazette.com

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Published July 29, 2023 at 9:36 am (Updated July 29, 2023 at 9:36 am)

HSBC customer loses $35,000 in fake OneComm text scam

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