Fraudsters use payday lender to steal cash


A growing number of innocent people are becoming victims of criminals who use the payday lender Wonga to steal cash. The first time most discover the theft is when £300 or £400 is suddenly taken from their account by the high-cost credit company.

But according to a police statement about one of the thefts, Wonga "has chosen to write off the crime". That leaves fraudsters free to repeat their con, leaving more people having their account drained by the lender.

Andrew Cotterrell of Somerset was hit with a demand for £405.50 by Wonga in August, even though the 54-year-old former company director has never used a payday lender. When he told the firm, he was surprised at how quickly it wrote off the debt. "Because Wonga decided to write off the fraud, the police did not take action," he said. "This means not only does the criminal walk free but the crime is not logged, and the true scale of the fraud remains hidden."

Through identity theft criminals use people's bank details to borrow cash from Wonga. They then flee with the money. Last weekend Claire Desbois, a retail assistant, had £600 taken out of her account in nine different transactions by Wonga. The 30-year-old said: "I had never used them but called Wonga right away but they said I'd have to speak to their specialist team on Monday. It left me having a very worrying weekend." On Monday Wonga simply told Claire to call her bank which refunded her money immediately.

The victims accuse the lender of not checking borrowers' details properly. Mr Cotterrell said: "There don't seem to be sufficient checks at Wonga to trap criminals and I suspect they don't really care as their success in getting new business far outweighs the cost of writing off the crime."

Wonga denied its systems are lax, pointing out that fraud counts for less than 0.01 per cent of its loans. A spokesman said: "Where criminals do get through the net, our fraud team works with victims of identity theft, indemnifying them from costs, plus working with the police wherever possible."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected