Tuesday, 3 November 2015
His widow had had nothing to do with the family finances. She had no idea that he had some £60,000 in his bank accounts.
He left no will.
The deceased had befriended a drifter who, after a while, would crash out in their house; borrow money and make himself quite unpleasant.
The widow was intimidated by this young man: he'd arrive late at night and she'd let him in along with his girl friend. He was rowdy, so much so that neighbours alerted the police. At length the police visited her and they provided secure locks and an automatic door light so she could see through the fitted spy hole who was there.
The drifter's girl friend stole the widow's cash.
Our neighbour, before he died, was in hospital for months. When he went home a few weeks before he died he could not leave his house.
After he death it was found that during his time in hospital and at home, over £3000 had been withdrawn from his account. It was withdrawn from cash points late at night and at sites a few miles from where our neighbour lived. He would not have been able to make those withdrawals.
The suspicion was that the drifter had got hold of the cash card and pin number from our neighbour's wife and used those to fraudulently withdraw money. On another occasion the wife had given him money to pay a bill - he didn't.
The theft was reported to the police, Barclays Bank - that was the neighbour's bank - were notified. The bank provided the police with details of the withdrawals: it was obvious that our neighbour couldn't have made the withdrawals.
The pattern and timing of the withdrawals were so out of character that they should have been picked up by the bank.
The bank appeared to recognise this because the £3000 was credited back to our neighbour's account.
The drifter was subsequently charged and found guilty of theft.
Probate rambled on. Finally the widow received details of the monies her husband had left in his bank account.
It was clear that £3000 had been withdrawn from one of the accounts after his death and after his accounts have been frozen.
A letter to Barclays followed asking what was this withdrawal. It turned out that Barclays had reclaimed that £3,000.
The reason they gave was that they'd written to the widow soon after her husband's but since she had not replied to their letter they had automatically reclaimed the money.
Barclays knew of his death. Barclays had closed his accounts. Barclays had initially paid over the £3000. Barclays had been contacted by the police seeking copies of the relevant bank statements as evidence to support their charge. But despite all that, having had no reply to one letter from the recently widowed wife the bank grabbed back £3,000.
I wrote to Barclays explaining all the above.
The first reply apologised because the letter had been sent to the wrong team.
I now have a second reply from them, in which they say my letter has been referred to their fraud office. However, as I didn't mention a police incident number in my letter they can't do anything until I provide that.
I am fuming. This is totally unacceptably bureaucratic.This multi-national, multi billion pound, high earning business can't get its basic customer services sorted.
This is a fairly straightforward case. Barclays recognised that money had been withdrawn fraudulently almost a year ago and refunded the money, but because of a lack of coordination, imagination or humanity this widow has been deprived of £3,000.