Mum who went £1m overdrawn in ‘bank error’ had to borrow money to feed her baby

A mum-of-two has told how she was stunned to wake up to find herself “£1m overdrawn” at her bank.

Kameka Smith-Barrett, from Oldbury, West Midlands, said her online banking showed she was wrongly in debt to the tune of £500,000 in her Barclays current account and by another £500,000 in her savings account.

The mental health support worker, who has a three-month-old baby, said she felt let down by the bank and was “offered no explanation as to what went wrong”.

She claims both bank accounts were also locked for 10 days while an investigation took place by Barclays – and that meant she had to borrow money from friends and family to buy food and pay bills.

Kameka, 30, told Birmingham Live: “When I logged on I realised that a large amount of money had disappeared. All I could see was £500,000 overdrawn on both accounts.

"I almost had a heart attack. I thought 'This is really bad'. It's horrible, I was shaking. I've just had a baby and didn't need that stress."

Kameka, who is on maternity leave, said she had made a complaint to Barclays over the incident – which happened between November 29 and December 9 – “but has not heard back”.

"I don't know why you'd have an overdraft at that limit anyway," she said. "I don't even have an overdraft on my account.

“I gave Barclays time to investigate. I've just had a baby and I had no money to buy food. It took so long to find out what was going on.

"They said that someone would call me and update me, but that hasn't happened. I made a complaint but to get no answer was crazy. They aren't saying anything. It's very stressing."

Barclays said that "activity on the account" led to a review but the negative balance "was not actual debt, just a precaution”. The bank also apologised to Kameka, who has two children – son Jaquan, eight, and baby Verona – for the inconvenience.

“Having reviewed the case, I can confirm the activity on the account prompted a routine review. While this review was undertaken the accounts stated a negative balance," a Barclays spokesman said.

"This was done to safeguard the funds whilst the internal investigation took place. The negative balance on the account was not actual debt, just a precaution.

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"The customer credit file and financial history have not been affected. As a regulated firm, we are subject to certain regulatory obligations which can require us to withhold transactions or services, or at times block accounts.

"We may place safeguards such as above on any banking facilities, at any time, as detailed in the customer retail agreement. We’re unfortunately unable to provide any additional information regarding the safeguards placed on the account.

"However, I can confirm all safeguards have since been removed and the funds have been returned. I appreciate this has been an extremely difficult time for our customer, and we’re sorry for any inconvenience that may have been caused.”

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