I’ve written a couple of times recently about unfair chargebacks, where retailers have had authorisation codes for card signatures in the absence of chip and PIN. The bank is covered, the consumer is covered… it’s the retailer who takes the hit.

This prompted Agnelo Desousa to get in touch. He runs Trinity Food and Wine in Basildon, Essex. He says that he had a decent-looking customer back in June who bought food and cigarettes amounting to £129.31. He wanted to pay by card, but it wouldn’t do Chip and PIN and it wouldn’t swipe either.

Agnelo says: “In the blink of an eye he had my card machine and typed his card number himself and printed the receipt and signed his copy. It was authorised.”

He adds: “I did check the signature and the card number to confirm this transaction. Everything was good.”

He also phoned the card merchant (Barclaycard). They told him that if it has been authorised it’s okay, but advised him not to take any more transactions like that in future.

“After two months I received a letter that on 8 June the transaction of £129.31 had been disputed by the cardholder. I did send all the details, but had no luck. Now I have to go to the Financial Ombudsman Service.”

Agnelo wonders if it’s the same person travelling around the UK with a stolen card (I doubt it; ideas travel quicker than people). He got the cardholder’s name: Mr Volodymyr Rybak. As he says, it sounds foreign.

I remember running a story similar to this a while back concerning an overseas card (registered in Canada I think), probably cloned. In Agnelo’s case the name sounded Russian, so I googled it and look what came up in Wikipedia: Volodymyr Rybak is a name of Russian origin of several Ukrainian politicians who surfaced in the media in 2010-2014. (Nothing like rubbing it in with the choice of names.)

As Agnelo regretfully noted, his money is gone, he has learned a lesson and wanted to warn others that, just because someone looks like a decent chap, he could be anything but and will deliberately con you out of hard-earned cash.