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Dad's Legal Battle After He Becomes A Victim of Sim-Swap Fraud
A dad who is suffering from a rare cancer is threatening legal action against mobile phone giant EE after he became the victim of a SIM-swap fraud while on holiday in Tenerife, which he says ruined the trip.
Graham Hill, 50, from Sale, was a few days into a two-week stay with his wife Anne and their son Ryan, aged 10, when the ordeal began.
The former semi-professional footballer, who is now disabled, was initially notified by EE that someone had tried to cancel his SIM and activate a new one by falsely claiming the phone had been lost.
EE flagged the bogus call on its system with a warning on Graham’s account, yet a few days later complied with a second fraudulent request to activate a new SIM for his phone, and cancelled his genuine one.
Graham then discovered £1,870 had been stolen from his current account with St James’s Place Bank.
The bank froze the account once he reported the crime, leaving him unable to withdraw any money. The family had to manage on what they had in cash and on a currency card, and were forced to cancel several trips and activities promised to Ryan.
Graham says he was offered £1,000 by EE for his holiday woes, two months without any charges and a £10 reduction on his future monthly bills. He says the £1,000 compensation offer was later withdrawn.
Now Graham has instructed Nick McAleenan, a partner at JMW Solicitors in Manchester, to pursue a legal complaint against EE for damages, an apology and costs. Graham is also seeking legal orders to prevent further data breaches.
Graham said: “We were very upset by what happened because of EE’s actions, we lost a lot of sleep and the holiday was ruined.”
Mr McAleenan is preparing a claim against EE for breach of data protection law and misuse of private information.
He said: “It’s astonishing that, after enduring a ‘near miss’ involving a fraudulent attempt to activate a new SIM, and the placing of a warning against his account on its system, EE still proceeded to replace the SIM and render my client’s phone unusable.
“EE was on notice of the risk that a third party was attempting to defraud my client, but it was duped into complying with a second request regardless, causing him and his family serious distress.
“We will be seeking damages for the distress, anxiety and damage caused to our client and his family.”
Mr McAleenan added: “Sadly, SIM-swap fraud is becoming all too common and has a traumatic impact on victims.
“It’s clear that data security at EE needs an urgent review to prevent this sort of thing happening again.”
Graham suffers from myeloma, which is a form of blood cancer, and POEMS syndrome, a rare blood disorder that damages the nerves. He has had two stem cell transplants and is currently having oral chemotherapy to manage his condition. He is unable to stand or walk freely and uses a frame.
Before falling ill, he was a national retail manager for construction services and materials firm Hilti GB. A former centre-half, he twice played for Runcorn in FA Trophy finals at Wembley in the 1990s.
He said: “When EE notified me about the first bogus call and the warning they were putting on their system, I thought it was very professional of them.
“I couldn’t believe they subsequently cancelled my service and issued a new SIM to the fraudsters.
“This put me and my family in a very difficult position on holiday. All we had left was a currency card with 300 euros on it and 100 euros in cash. We were on a self-catering holiday and don’t have any credit cards, so the whole fiasco ruined our trip.
“My privacy has been violated, and I feel angry and disappointed.”
SIM-swap fraud is a growing problem in the UK whereby tricksters gather personal information about someone from social media.
They then call their victim’s mobile operator and, using the information they have obtained, attempt to pass the security checks. Once they have tricked the operator into believing they are legitimate, they request that a new SIM card be activated for the phone.
Calls and texts are then routed to the new SIM and the criminal is able to log into their victim’s bank account and steal money by requesting an access code via SMS.
The first the victim will know of a problem is when their own mobile phone stops working and they report it to their provider.
In Graham’s case, his bank refunded the stolen cash and began a fraud probe.
For more information:
0161 828 1981
Note to Editors
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