Chiswick gym-goer has bank account emptied after locker raid – BBC

By Shari Vahl
Reporter, You and Yours

A woman has described how criminals raided her gym locker, stole her wallet and went on an £8,000 shopping spree while she was exercising.
Charlotte, from west London, who did not want her full name published, told the BBC how she felt blamed by her bank and made to feel like a "criminal".
She believes thieves accessed her card PIN via the phone app, but Santander said she must have disclosed it.
The bank has apologised to her and refunded her money.
Charlotte went to exercise at a Virgin Active gym in Chiswick after work on 24 August when all of her belongings, including her bank cards and phone were stolen.
Despite having padlocked her locker, she arrived back to find it empty. Two other gym-goers also had their lockers raided, she said.
"I was completely stuck, I just froze", she told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme.
When she used a friend's phone to call Santander she said the operator was slow to respond or take action, which caused her to panic.
"Obviously you want a sense of urgency at that point from the person handling the call and you want to be reassured everything had been stopped and I was not getting that from this call handler at all," she said.
Charlotte said she was told her card had been used to make about £8,000 worth of purchases from her current account, with goods bought from the Apple store at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush, the Apple store in Regent Street, and Selfridges on Oxford Street – all within 90 minutes.
Having initially believed her savings account would be safe, she was then told the thieves had also transferred her £10,000 of life savings into her current account.
"I thought 'that's everything. I've lost everything'," she said. "I just couldn't believe how much damage they had done."
She said she felt "violated" and "distressed", but assumed Santander would refund the money as she believed she had been defrauded.
However, she said she was left "broken" when she received a call from the bank a few days later and learnt that while Santander had managed to stop some of the purchases, she would still be £5,000 out of pocket.
"I was very rudely and bluntly told 'you will not be getting your money back. It's your fault because they've used your PIN'," she said.
"I was also accused of writing my PIN down and keeping it on a bit of paper in my bag.
"I was just left absolutely broken because all that hope that I had, that I was clinging onto just suddenly melted away. It was heartbreaking.
"I just didn't know how I suddenly went from being the victim of something horrible to being made to feel like the criminal."
She said she then took to social media to raise awareness of her experience, and spent the next week "frantically trying to prove my innocence".
After that she received a phone call from a senior Santander staff member, who "apologised wholeheartedly" and "held her hands up".
"They said they failed me," she said.
Charlotte accused Santander of making a "catalogue of errors", which included calling her mobile phone after it had been stolen when it was likely to have been in the hands of criminals.
She said while she was not certain how the thieves accessed her PIN, she believes they accessed it via her personal banking app. Santander, like some other high street banks, carry PINs in their apps behind security details.
She also believes criminals accessed the changing rooms due to a fault in the gym's security barriers that day, which meant people without passes could enter.
Santander apologised for initially "incorrectly declining her refund request and for the customer service she received", and it has paid her £750 in compensation.
However, it said its "security logs" showed there had been "no compromise with our mobile banking app".
Virgin Active said it was assisting police with their inquiries and "fully investigating all of the circumstances around the brief failure of the access gates".
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