Cloned bank card hits small business

CELIA WIGG An electrical contractor is counting the cost after discovering his bank card has been cloned and thousands of pounds stolen from his business account.

CELIA WIGG

An electrical contractor is counting the cost after discovering his bank card has been cloned and thousands of pounds stolen from his business account.

Ray Lietch, 64, from Tasburgh, got the shock of his life when he went online on Tuesday and found just over £14,000 had been taken.

He is a Barclay's Bank customer, and thought at first that it was a straightforward error and the bank had made a mistake with his balance, which had unexpectedly dipped into the red.

But when he called up his bank statement and checked more thoroughly, he realised, to his horror, that numerous transactions had been carried out - none of which was down to him.

"The first time, it was just a £20 phone top-up," he said.

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Mr Lietch said he feared the card was cloned after he used the cash machine at the Barclays branch in Long Stratton - but the bank said there was "no evidence" to suggest the cash machine was the source of the problem.

He believes a duplicate card was also used to pay for various holidays, car repairs, and a new CCTV system at his firm's expense.

"I am upset about it. I have been in touch with Barclays and their fraud people are looking into it. I have also been in touch with the business manager to get an increase in my overdraft for two months, to tide me over," added Mr Leitch, who employs four people.

Although the financial arrangements mean the company can continue operating as normal, he is worried about the potential impact if the losses are not made good by the bank.

"Basically, Barclays are saying I should get the money back within the next two months. If not, the business will close down," he explained.

Irene East, the bank's head of community relations (eastern), said they were looking into the matter.

"We take fraud extremely seriously and once Mr Leitch has completed

our fraud form and returned it, we

will start our investigations," she

said.

"There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Leitch's card was cloned at our ATM at the Long Stratton branch as some of the suspected fraudulent entries appear to have been carried out before he withdrew money from that machine."

She added: "We would emphasise that where customers are a victim of fraud they can be reassured that they will be fully reimbursed."

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