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Card sharks

One way of forcing a bank to review its lending practices is to wipe billions of dollars off its balance sheets via widespread write-downs of securities backed by loans made to customers with poor credit histories who have absolutely no chance of paying them back. Another way of doing it is to steal £10,000 from its chairman.


Last month, a conman posing as Barclays chairman Marcus Agius ordered a new credit card from a call centre. Apparently, the thief obtained the pertinent information (date of birth, address, etc.) by searching on the internet. Once he had his new card he used it to withdraw the money from a local Barclays branch. Barclays has admitted the mistake, attributing it to "human error", and has reimbursed Agius the full £10,000. A review of Barclays’ lending and security procedures is now under way.

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