The 28-year-old, who splits her time between Birmingham and Enfield, received a fake Royal Mail text in March.
It was the day before her birthday so she thought nothing of paying the small “settlement” charge, assuming it was for a package she had missed. “I didn’t think much about it,” she said. “The website looked like the Royal Mail and it was only asking for my account number and sort code.”
But the text was not designed to allow fraudsters to drain a bank account. It gives them enough information about a person to convince them their account has been compromised.
Ms Hartley later received a call from someone posing as a Barclays employee who told her the text was a scam.
They then led her through steps on her mobile banking app to transfer her money to a new account. They took £500 from her personal account and the same amount from one set up for her business.
She said: “I had a complete meltdown. It’s a mixture of grief and shame. It’s the emotional blackmail I wasn’t prepared for. This person on the phone acting like you could lose everything and they are your saviour. It makes you panic and act on impulse rather than logically.”