Hamilton plan RBS legal action over scam that defrauded club of £1m

Hamilton Academical are planning on taking legal action against RBS over a sophisticated scam that defrauded the New Douglas Park club out of nearly £1 million.
New Douglas Park, home of Hamilton Academical. Picture: SNS GroupNew Douglas Park, home of Hamilton Academical. Picture: SNS Group
New Douglas Park, home of Hamilton Academical. Picture: SNS Group

Police are probing the incident that saw phone scammers launch a ‘vishing’ attack and successfully convince a club employee to move more than £989,000 into 26 accounts as part of theft-prevention measures.

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Accies have asked lawyers to contact the bank with a view to recouping around half of the money, but RBS has denied any breakdowns in its security programme.

The bank has pointed out that the first two payments of £40,000 and £70,000 had initially been blocked by their cyber-security measures.

Hamilton chief executive Colin McGowan confirmed that the club had recovered around £170,000 in the aftermath of the fraud but told STV: “You wouldn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to see something was wrong here.

“On day two, £655,000 went out with 20 transactions. These weren’t challenged once. I’ve repeatedly asked the bank if they had better security on day one than on day two.

“They made no attempt whatsoever to contact a second person, even though they’ve intervened twice, they suspected something was wrong.”

Expressing his disbelief that no one from the bank attempted to contact the club despite suspending the first two transactions, McGowan added: “We’re talking about nearly a million going out in 24 hours.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable. A million pound going out Hamilton Accies? Get real.”

McGowan also told the BBC that the club wasn’t ‘claiming to be blameless’, but insisted: “We have been the victims of a complex fraud and I don’t think it would have taken place if things had been different.

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“As far as I am concerned there is proof that there were security lapses at the bank.”

A spokesperson for RBS said that the bank is yet to receive any correspondence from Hamilton’s lawyers, but added: “The bank is confident that there has been no breakdown in our security procedures in regards to this scam and that no unauthorised persons were able to gain access to any of the club’s banking facilities.

“All payments were keyed and approved by the authorised user of the club’s account. The bank contacted [Hamilton] to question the transactions on two separate occasions and the customer instructed the bank to continue with the payments.”

The bank is working closely with police in a bid to identify those responsible for the scam.