Natwest apologises after blaming credit card theft victim for fraudulent purchases

Teddy Eastoe at his mailbox in the communal entrance hall of the flats on Upper Park Road. Picture:

Teddy Eastoe at his mailbox in the communal entrance hall of the flats on Upper Park Road. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A Belsize Park man has cleared his name after his bank accused him of making fraudulent purchases on his stolen credit card himself.

NatWest has backed down after blaming Teddy Eastoe for £600 spent on a credit card that was stolen from the hallway of Parkstead Lodge in Upper Park Road.

Initially when he reported the fraud, NatWest accepted his story. But, weeks later, the bank told him it believed it had been in charge of the stolen card after all.

That was because he had bought items from Selfridges on a debit card hours before a fraudulent £200 purchase on the credit card from the same store.

NatWest also bizarrely claimed that the fact the credit card had been used on TfL services was proof Teddy was using it himself, as he usually uses his Natwest debit card to travel across the capital.

Teddy spent hours gathering evidence to prove his innocence, and NatWest has apologised after the Ham&High contacted it late last week.

“I’m relieved that it has been sorted,” said the 24-year-old. “But I’m frustrated that it’s only happened because I spent so much time getting proof. If I had done nothing I don’t think they would’ve come to the same conclusion.”

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Teddy ordered a new credit card from NatWest, with whom he has banked since he was a child, in February to help improve his credit score.

It was duly dispatched at the start of this month, but he didn’t receive it.

It was only when he checked his account two weeks later that he found £614.91 had been spent on it.

He rang the bank while going through check-in at Stansted Airport with his girlfriend for a trip to Berlin. At the time NatWest said it would refund the money.

But more than three weeks later, on March 11, NatWest called him back to say it was contesting his story.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “I was in Selfridges six hours before the other transaction. I’ve got proof that I didn’t make them. As for using it to go on the Tube and bus, so does half of London.”

The situation worsened the next day, when police closed the case less than 24 hours after he had reported it, without taking a statement.

The victim then turned detective. After getting information from NatWest about where the transactions took place, he spent time contacting shops and seeing if they had CCTV.

One store had deleted footage since the purchase. But another, Size? in Camden High Street, still had the recording, and said a man not fitting Teddy’s description was captured buying some trainers.

Teddy, who works in the sales team for Fred Perry, tried to open a case with Action Fraud, which handles fraud cases, but the details he provided meant it could not be “classified as a police crime.”

The situation left Teddy tearing his hair out. Despite NatWest’s u-turn, he is still unhappy about the three weeks it took bank to get in touch to challenge his story, meaning crucial evidence was lost.

“It’s been massively frustrating,” he said. “I got to a point where I felt I had all the answers but nobody was prepared to listen.”

He believes the card was taken from the reception area of his apartment block in Belsize Park. Someone else living in Parkstead Lodge is believed to have had £10,000 stolen in recent months. A BBC presenter is a near neighbour in the block.

Brian Kernahan, who is the managing agent for Parkstead Lodge, is looking to improve security and postage storage.

Mr Kernahan said the block was being “specially targeted by identity thieves who are gaining access to the building via the entryphone system.”

“Unfortunately,” he explained, “despite constant reminders, some tenants are still allowing unidentified people into the building.” He said further security measures are now in place and the letter boxes will be replaced.

“This kind of thieving seems to be endemic right throughout this part of London,” he said.

NatWest contacted Teddy on Tuesday this week to admit its error. It has offered £100 in compensation and apologised.

A spokesperson said: “Having undertaken a further review of this case we have offered Mr Eastoe a full refund as well as a gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience that this has caused.”

However Teddy said NatWest had initially only offered £50 and believes it isn’t sufficient compensation.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable for the time I’ve spent getting evidence, and how emotional and stressful it’s been,” he said. “I also want to make sure the police will investigate this, or it could happen again.”

The Met has also reopened its investigation after Teddy provided information about CCTV footage, a spokesperson said.