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I had £18,000 stolen after my 'drink was spiked' while on a night out – my account was drained in just hours

A MAN has revealed £18,000 disappeared from his account after he believes he was spiked on a night out.

Ben Gregory, 26, said he woke up feeling "dizzy" and "dazed" after his drink was spiked while he was at a club in Clapham, south London.

And he said his sick feeling quickly turned to panic when he woke up and realised his phone and wallet were missing – checking his account to find it had been drained in just a few hours.

Speaking to the BBC, the young man said: "I woke up pretty dizzy, dazed and not quite sure what happened so obviously I was a bit alarmed.

"I had messages from my brother saying: 'Is everything OK [because] there's been an overdraft opened up on our joint account. What's happened?'

"As soon as I saw that alarm bells started ringing."

It is believed the thieves used banking apps on Ben's smartphone to transfer and withdraw thousands of pounds.

Two £2,500 overdrafts were created on his accounts and his savings were transferred to his current account and then withdrawn.

The total amount stolen from his American Express, Revolut, HSBC and Monzo accounts was more than £18,000.

Spiking drinks is usually associated with men targeting woman and with sexual assault as a motive, with a string of women reporting fears they had been injected with unknown substances on nights out.

But Ben believes he was targeted by criminals who wanted to defraud and steal from him.

Ben said: "I feel terrible, absolutely terrible. Over the next few days I couldn't stop thinking about it, couldn't sleep, I found it very hard to eat. Because ultimately I felt worried and vulnerable."

Cops investigating Ben's case say they have made several arrests.

Inspector Dave Laurie, London Metropolitan Police said: "Spiking is a terrible thing that's happening and it goes further than the impact on the individual. The impact will run deep. And we know many spiking incidents will go unreported."

Inspector Laurie said victims shy away from reporting similar incidents because of embarrassment and memory loss.

He added: "Buy your own drink, watch it being poured, don't accept drinks from strangers and never leave it unattended. If your drink doesn't taste right, throw it away."

SINISTER TACTICS

David Clarke, chair of the Fraud Advisory Panel charity, said people need to be alert to "sinister tactics" used by fraudsters and the dangers of spiking this Christmas party season.

He said: "Fraudsters are cruel, devious people online and in the physical world andpeople must be alert to the danger of having drinks spiked."

It's hard to know how common spiking fraud is.

Clarke added: "We need big tech and big finance to come up with big solutions to this type of fraud.

"Yes individuals can try help themselves, but there is a limit to what people can do.

"We need technology to help because the crooks are so advanced."

Monzo and American Express refunded Ben's stolen cash within days. HSBC and Revolut initially refused the refund, but reversed that decision once Money Box started investigating the case.

HSBC said: "We have thoroughly reviewed this case, and in light of new information we will be providing a full refund to Mr Gregory.

"While we have an experienced team looking for signs of fraud, as this case sadly highlights, scammers are unscrupulous criminals who use a range of techniques to exploit their victims. We encourage people to be on their guard."

Revolut said: "This was an unusual case where the payments were authorised by the customer but, as is now clear, without his consent. We very much regret the distress and inconvenience to Mr Gregory and we have reimbursed his losses."

This comes as several UK police forces are investigating a spate of spiking incidents by injection.

With victims reporting "small puncture wounds" and "blacking out".

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