A woman was left over $9,000 out of pocket after thieves stole her bag from a gym, broke into her phone, changed all her passwords and drained her life savings from her bank account. Charlotte, from west London, was working out at a gym when the thieves broke into her padlocked locker and took her belongings, changed her phone password, and went on a massive shopping spree. Here’s what happened—and why her bank is refusing to help.

1
Lax Security

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Charlotte was working out at the Virgin Active gym in Chiswick, West London when thieves went into the changing rooms and broke into her padlocked locker. The security barriers for the gym were reportedly down, meaning anyone could walk in and out of the gym without showing membership status. “No one was ensuring that those entering the premises were genuine members,” Charlotte says. Charlotte wasn’t the only victim of theft—two other gym members also had items stolen from their lockers during the incident. 

2
Changing Passwords

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Charlotte claims the thieves used her ATM card to take over $9,000 from her bank account, and reset her Apple Pay security features. They then spent thousands on a shopping spree, including at high-end London department store Selfridges and at the Apple Store. The thieves also transferred thousands from her savings account into her current account.

3
The Bank Refuses To Help

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Charlotte’s bank Santander has reportedly accused her of facilitating the theft by writing down her PIN on a piece of paper, on the card itself, or sharing the information with friends. As a result, they are refusing to cover the full amount stolen as it doesn’t fall under their rules for fraud protection. According to Charlotte, the bank was slow to action right from the moment she first called them, adding to her anxiety over the situation.

4
Left Out of Pocket

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“I was very rudely and bluntly told ‘you will not be getting your money back. It’s your fault because they’ve used your Pin,'” Charlotte told BBC Radio 4. “I was also accused of writing my Pin down and keeping it on a bit of paper in my bag. I was just left absolutely broken because all that hope that I had, that I was clinging onto just suddenly melted away. It was heartbreaking.” The bank agreed to cover around $860 extra after Charlotte raised awareness of her plight on social media.

5
The Investigation Continues

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A Santander spokesperson has released a statement on the incident, saying, “We take protecting our customers’ accounts extremely seriously and have comprehensive fraud prevention systems in place. We are investigating the details outlined by our customer on social media as a matter of urgency and contacted them as soon as we were alerted to the case to discuss the issue further.” The gym also released a statement, saying they are assisting the police and “fully investigating all of the circumstances around the brief failure of the access gates.”

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read
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