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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Local takeaway owner warns other businesses after customer scam

A CCTV image of the scammer in the business premises.

A Chinese takeaway owner in Ballymena has issued a warning to other businesses after a customer used a fake banking app in a simple but convincing scam.

Mr Timothy Chan, owner of Harmony House on Henry Street, revealed the customer placed a telephone food order for collection on Thursday evening (3 February) around 6:30pm. Turning up over half an hour later, the man stated that he did not have cash to pay. Staff directed the man to ATM machine just down the street. The customer then left before returning saying he did not have a debit card on him to withdraw cash, and offered to do a direct bank transfer to make payment.

Timothy explained:

“We do not generally use this method of payment, but we already believed the customer was not for turning up to collect the food, so I decided to go ahead and let him pay by transfer.

“The man took out his phone and intentionally tilted it in a way so that I could see on the screen he had in excess of £7,000 in his bank account.

“As he went to enter my bank details on the phone app I felt a bit suspicious, and alarm bells went off in my head. The app looked strange and I mentioned to him I had never seen that particular app before. I asked to see it and he freely handed over his phone stating it was a Bank of Scotland app.”

A CCTV image of the scammer.

The man went onto tell an elaborate story that he had just arrived in town after travelling from Scotland and was now looking for work.

“I asked a few more questions from him regarding the app and his lack of debit card situation,” said Timothy. “I felt satisfied as long as I entered my account details myself into his app, it would be okay.

“He comfortably gave me his phone and I proceeded to enter the details to complete the transfer. The app showed that the money was transferred, but upon checking my own account it was not received.

“The man went back to his story again saying maybe the transfer delay was because he was using Bank of Scotland and the time was after 5pm in the working day.”

The trusting takeaway owner gave the customer the benefit of the doubt and let him go as he knew he had his phone number from the order. However since the incident, Timothy now believes the phone number used was also fake.

Timothy continued: “The money has still not been transferred and in hindsight, considering everything, it appears that the man was using a sophisticated fake banking app and we had been scammed.

“The man was very convincing and was able to show me lots of other recent transactions on his app, including payments to Dominos and other retail stores. The app is very detailed and it would be very easy to trick a lot of other people.”

The scammer (seen in the photographs above) is described as around 5 foot 6 inches tall, with bushy curly hair. He spoke fluent English, though he had a foreign accent, and he was wearing “a lot of bling on him - a gold necklace and a big gold watch as means of distraction and misdirection”. It appears he intentionally tried to conceal his identity using a face mask and a baseball cap.

Timothy concluded: “Apparently these fake bank apps are quite easily accessible and very credible so as to fool the victim. “I’m not concerned about the food order or the money lost - it was a small order under £20. I want to share the story so others can be aware of this scammer, and so other businesses won’t fall for his trick.”


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