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Smartphone loophole let thieves spend my £8k savingsstop it happening to you

A WOMAN has told of the horror moment a smartphone loophole let thieves spend £8,000 of her savingsand shared how to stop it happening to you.

Charlotte Morgan, van Londen, says in the short period she spent at the gym one evening, a thief was able to carelessly yet cunningly spend every penny she had to her name.

Charlotte Morgan says a thief used a smartphone loophole to spend her £8,000 savings - in the time she was working out

Charlotte Morgan says a thief used a smartphone loophole to spend her £8,000 savingsin the time she was working outKrediet: Twitter
The criminal broke into Charlotte's gym locker and took off with all they needed - her phone and bank card

The criminal broke into Charlotte’s gym locker and took off with all they neededher phone and bank cardKrediet: Getty – Bydraer

She now understands the crook knew exactly what they were doing when they stole her phone and bank card from her gym locker.

They removed her phone’s sim card, placed it in another phone, en – in a banking app loopholeused it to access her savings account.

Charlotte claims her bank, Santander, then accused her of negligence and originally told her she would not be reimbursed the £8,000 she lost.

The horror first started unfolding about 9.30pm on a normal Wednesday after Charlotte finished her workout.

She wrote for the MailOnline: “Going to my locker at the Virgin Active gym in Chiswick Park, Londen, I realised my combination padlock was missingand the compartment was empty.

Charlotte’s bagwhich had her phone and bank card, along with her house keys and morewas gone.

Swiftly making her way to the gym front counter, she found another victim of theftwhose face she recognised.

Charlotte said: “I remembered her because the electronic entry gate was out of action and, instead of showing our membership cards, we signed a piece of paper as we went in.

No staff member checked our names against the system, so our thief had most likely slipped in this way, ook.”

Charlotte frantically called Santander, begging them to put a stop on all transactions.

Maar, sy het gese: “The voice on the other end of the line then listed a series of major transactions, all made during my gym session.

Each one hit me like a bullet.

The thief spent almost £3,000 at an Apple Storein three purchases of £850then £1,000 at another Apple store, then £700 at a Selfridges.


It was there that Santander queried the spending pattern, by sending an automated text message to Charlotte’s phone.

Sy het gese: “But this was now in the hands of the criminal… wie, natuurlik, confirmed the transaction.

The Santander bank call handler then told her a further £3,000 in transactions were still pending.

Maar, Charlotte says she only kept a limited amount of money in the account linked to her bank card, and wondered how the thief managed to spend so much.

That was when the call handler broke the news that the thief had managed to transfer money from her savings — in chunks of £2,500 — to the current account.

Dan, knowing a thief had just made off with all her money, Charlotte had to spend the night at work because she didn’t have the keys to her flat, or money to book a hotel, or a phone to call a friend.


And the coming days didn’t get much better.

She said her gym told her it did not take responsibility for theft, en polisie said they’d get back to her in a few weeks when they had reviewed CCTV footage.

Charlotte said: “Throughout the long Bank Holiday weekend, unable to eat or sleep through anxiety, I waited to hear that my life savings would be returned.

Sy het bygevoeg: “But the hardest blow, the one that almost broke me, came when a Santander employee told me — rather casually and bluntly, six days after the theft — that I would not be reimbursed.

The theft was my own fault, hy het gesê. I must have kept my PIN number with my debit card — perhaps written on the card itself, hy het bygevoeg.

This was insulting and untrue — and anyway, it still wouldn’t explain how my savings were ransacked.


Charlotte then took to Twitter to share her ordeal, and said a bank security expert reached out, explaining how the scam is likely to have happened.

She relayed: “Once the thief had my debit card, they didn’t need my smartphone — just the sim card, which can be popped out of the side and inserted into another phone.

This bypasses thumbprint security and facial recognition. It’s the digital equivalent of an open window in a house.

Once into my account, the thief could reset the PIN online, and then change all my banking security passwords.

It’s shockingly easy. I think the thief was able to do it in the taxi from the gym to the first Apple store.

Charlotte said that as her story spread across Twitter, Santander reached out.

Sy het gese: “My money was returned to me and I received a long phone call of apology — though I’m not sure what real action Santander will take to ensure this cannot keep happening.

I have also been assured by Virgin Active that it wants to ‘regain my trust’.


Sy het bygevoeg: “The nightmare that unfolded has left me stunned and wondering if I can ever trust a gym or bank again.

Maar, Charlotte says: “I have now enhanced my security measures, locking my sim with a pin number and never keeping my bank card in the same bag as my phone.

And while that may have stopped what happened to her on August 24, sy het gese: “Frankly, I no longer have confidence that even these measures would foil a knowledgeable thief.

“Na alles, this was clearly not the work of an amateur.

And it was not a lone attack, Laurence geskud deur 'buitengewone. A spate of thefts at London gyms has left numerous other women facing the same awful nightmare. Many of them have contacted me.

It’s hard to put into words how it feels when a system designed to help turns its back on you. Polisie, gyms and banks all need to work together on this.

I’m angry, upset and impatient for change.

The Sun has approached Santander for comment.