- Scammers took out a £7,500 loan within minutes of taking victim’s bank details
- TransPennine Express has removed QR codes at car parks after similar reports
- Have you fallen victim to a QR code scam? Email email@example.com
A pensioner was duped out of £13,000 by a gang of fraudsters using a fake QR code at a station car park.
The 71-year-old fell victim to the scam, which involved covering over the real code on a car parking sign at Thornaby Station in Teeside.
After scanning the fake code, the woman was directed to a website which took her payment and extracted her card details.
Although the transactions were initially blocked by her bank, the victim was then convinced by a phone call from the fraudsters posing as bank staff, after which they had taken out a £7,500 loan within minutes.
Rail operator TransPennine Express has stopped using QR codes at station car parks since September following similar scam reports across the country.
A pensioner was duped out of £13,000 by a gang of fraudsters using a fake QR code at a station car park
The 71-year-old fell victim to the scam, which involved covering over the real code on a car parking sign at Thornaby Station in Teeside, which when scanned saw her directed to a website which extracted her card details
In addition to stealing money, the scammers changed the pensioner’s banking details including her address, ordered new cards and even set up an online account, the BBC reported.
The victim, who is unnamed, said she hadn’t used a QR code before and wouldn’t again, and described several ‘sleepless nights’ on the phone to her bank trying to stop the fraud.
VirginMoney said that all of the transactions had since been refunded and the loan cancelled, and added that they had taken steps to protect the woman’s account in the future.
Around 1,200 scams relating to fake QR codes have been investigated by Action Fraud in the last three years alone.
What are QR codes?
A passenger scanning a QR code to buy a rail ticket
Short for Quick Response, QR codes are black and white squares which can be scanned by mobile devices to reach a website or link quickly.
They were invented in 1994 by a Japanese automotive products company.
QR codes are used in a variety of settings to enable quick payment, such as in car parks.
They are also used increasingly in advertising such as on billboards and at bus stops to quickly direct potential customers to websites, and in transport, such as in mobile boarding passes and train tickets.
Their use became increasingly prevalent following the COVID-19 pandemic as a means of reducing physical contact, for example replacing traditional printed menus and bills in restaurants, and most notably as part of the Government’s contact tracing scheme.
But the efficiency of QR codes has also led to them being used by criminals as a tool for phishing and steal personal information.