Return of £27,000 eases plight of tragic gambler with mental health problems

Crusader has reported over the past two years on the situation of desperately troubled Stuart. His fluctuating schizophrenia, after a brain injury in a road accident, led him to being sectioned for months at a time in hospital.

Robbed of any sense of risk, online he opened a host of accounts with betting companies and banks. 

With his dad Jeff we kept challenging the lack of checks and controls by some firms and now over £120,000 has been returned. The money Stuart used came from his accident claim award that was intended to support his lifelong dependency.

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer champion Maisha Frost on [email protected] ++;

This latest return by Metro Bank with a £1,000 goodwill gesture marks another welcome step forward. 

Plans for major reforms of the gambling laws to protect vulnerable users in the smartphone era were announced last month and include the creation of an industry ombudsman to deal with disputes and redress. 

Stuart and Jeff’s situation goes right to the heart of the controls issue and the possible protection from self-harm afforded by a power of attorney (POA). 

Once Scotland-based Jeff discovered the full consequences of Stuart’s condition he was awarded a continuous power of attorney (CPOA) authority over his son’s welfare and financial affairs.

Using his Metro account in just one 24-hour frenzy Stuart had spent over £17,000 while in hospital.

Jeff explains: “I had seen small amounts being spent from this account. Once I had power of attorney I asked the bank to block Stuart and sent documentary proof by guaranteed delivery. Receipt was acknowledged. My understanding is it had been sent to the bank’s specialist team, but big sums still went through.”

Jeff complained, but first was told no power of attorney had been registered and therefore his adult son was allowed to spend in his own capacity.

“Then I was instructed to go to a bank branch. But there aren’t any in Scotland so it would have been really difficult – which is why I had sent everything and kept a record. Eventually my son’s separate complaint was rejected and I did not hear from the specialist team.”

Worn out by all the struggles, Jeff told Crusader and explaining the full context to Metro, we asked if it could reinvestigate.

It responded really well with the refund and the excellent goodwill gesture, saying: “We set high standards when it comes to customer service and on this occasion we fell short. In recognition of this we have fully refunded, including an additional compensation payment. We are sorry for the stress and anxiety this must have caused [the] family, and we are looking closely at our processes to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

[Jeff and Stuart’s names have been changed]

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