Social media users are left in stitches as comedian Joe Lycett tells baffled peers in House of Lords how he pretended to be the CEO of RBS bank with tweet reading, ‘I’ve got a smelly bum bum’
Social media users have been left in stitches after comedian Joe Lycett repeated the phrase ‘I’ve got a smelly bum bum’ in a talk to the House of Lords.
The stand-up star and prankster today gave evidence to a committee of the upper house as part of a discussion about fraud.
The 33-year-old TV presenter was speaking about his own experiencing taking on scammers as part of his Channel 4 show Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back.
During a discussion with the Lords Committee on the Fraud Act 2006 and Digital Fraud, he spoke about impersonating the head of RBS.
He set up fake social media profiles for then CEO Ross McEwan after a viewer complained that the banking group had refused to refund £8,000 she had lost in a scam.
At first many people believed the account to be that of the real banking boss. But his gag unravelled after he posted the Tweet: ‘I’ve got a smelly bum bum.’
Asked about the experience, and whether he believed banking firms were testing their own staff with elaborate pranks similar to those he had tried, Lycett said: ‘I’m sure they do.
‘I just don’t think, the way we approach it, that anyone else would do it. Why would somebody pretend to be the head of a bank for that long and then Tweet I’ve got a smelly bum bum.
‘At that point the account started to get red flagged.’
Lycett’s comments to the committee left social media users in hysterics, with one TV critic, Scott Bryan, sharing a clip on Twitter.
He wrote: ‘May the official records state that Joe Lycett said ‘I’ve got a smelly bum bum’ to the House of Lords.’
The stand-up star and prankster today gave evidence to a committee of the upper house as part of a discussion about fraud
The 33-year-old TV presenter was speaking about his own experiencing taking on scammers as part of his Channel 4 show Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back (pictured)
Lycett’s comments to the committee left social media users in hysterics, with one TV critic, Scott Bryan, sharing a clip on Twitter (pictured)
One social media user replied: ‘Oh Joe Lycett, you are a legend.’ Another wrote: ‘I love British politics.’
And Lycett responded to the Tweet himself, writing: ‘Yes, this did happen.’
Lycett’s talk to the committee today centred around his show Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, in which he attempts to secure justice for those who have become victims of fraud and mercilessly pranks the perpetrators.
In one prank he took up the cause of a woman who had lost her life savings after falling victim to a phone scammer who convinced her to transfer thousands into an account to keep the money ‘safe’.
When she told Natwest, who are owned by RBS, about the scam they said they were unable to refund the majority of the money – which totalled more than £8,000.
In response, Lycett attempted to impersonate RBS’s then CEO Ross McEwan, setting up a number of fake social media profiles, including a Twitter account.
And while initially he posted sensible material, attracting a following of financial journalists, he later started to post joke Tweets, including: ‘I’ve got a smelly bum bum’.
Joe Lycett: Only Channel 4 would have commissioned my show
Comedian Joe Lycett said he believes only Channel 4 would have commissioned his consumer rights TV show.
The Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back presenter spoke of his pride in the programme, which he said is an important part of the ecosystem of productions helping people with scams.
The 33-year-old was giving evidence to the House of Lords Committee on the Fraud Act 2006 and Digital Fraud.
He said: ‘I’m very grateful to Channel 4 for commissioning the show in the first place because our show is not something that a commercial broadcaster would have approached.
‘The BBC said no to it. It’s sort of quite risky legally.
‘It’s only really Channel 4 that would have commissioned the show and it’s, I think, an important part of the ecosystem of shows that help people with being scammed.’
The Government confirmed on Monday it will proceed with plans to privatise Channel 4, which has been publicly owned since being founded in 1982 and is funded by advertising.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries previously said that while Channel 4 holds a ‘cherished place in British life’, she feels public ownership is holding the broadcaster back from ‘competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon’.
Lycett told the hearing he is ‘very proud’ of his show, adding: ‘It can shine a light on it and it does it in a fun and light-hearted way, but at the core of it is a very serious thing, which is that people are being wronged on a kind of massive scale by these fraudsters and scammers.’
His prank was then unravelled. Alongside referencing his prank, Lycett was quizzed on which sectors could do more to help customers.
Lycett said: ‘I think the biggest sector that we think could do better are the platforms.’
He said he was referring to social media platforms as well as websites offering themselves as intermediaries to obtain a service.
‘They’ve definitely improved but a lot of the time they go ‘Well, it’s nothing to do with us, we’ve just offered the platform on which you meet and find these businesses. But actually if you get scammed it’s nothing to do with us’.’
He said the banking sector has improved a lot, ‘but it is kind of at their discretion whether they refund their customers who have been scammed’.
Many banks have signed up to a voluntary code which reimburses blameless victims who are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster, but consumer campaigners and others have raised concerns about the code being applied inconsistently.
Lycett told the hearing: ‘We also think that it’s potentially a little bit too easy to open a bank account and, to not go into too much detail, I managed to open a bank account in someone else’s name, with their permission.
‘And that felt concerning to me that you could open accounts without too much… too many questions being asked. So I think it’s quite easy to funnel money in that way.’
Asked if he would like to see an obligation on platforms to check the people who come on to them, he said: ‘Yes. Improved checks on those platforms seems to me to be a relatively simple thing to do, a reasonable request of these platforms and not something that is beyond their resources.
‘These platforms are often making a lot of money… they should be obliged to do more in that area.’
Lycett also said more information in schools about scams and other financial matters could help.
He was also asked about the telecoms sector, and referred to fraudsters’ use of phone number spoofing, where scam texts can appear to be from a legitimate body and even sometimes appear within a thread of genuine messages.
Lycett said: ‘It seemed mad to me that it was possible for somebody to text you from a number that is not theirs.’
He also spoke of the life-changing impacts of scams on victims, saying: ‘It absolutely ruins people’s lives, to the point where people have lost their lives because of the depression and the shame that come with being scammed in these ways.’
Lycett attempted to impersonate RBS’s then CEO Ross McEwan, setting up a number of fake social media profiles, including a Twitter account
He said scams are ‘something that anyone could fall victim to at any point and could completely change the course of your life… Anyone can be caught out by it and it can completely ruin your life.’
Lycett said he has been surprised by both the volume and the sophistication of scams.
He told the hearing he is ‘very proud’ of his show, adding: ‘It can shine a light on it and it does it in a fun and light-hearted way, but at the core of it is a very serious thing, which is that people are being wronged on a kind of massive scale by these fraudsters and scammers.’
‘It’s only really Channel 4 that would have commissioned the show and it’s, I think, an important part of the ecosystem of shows that help people with being scammed,’ he said.
Describing how scammers are often anonymous and unlikely to be caught, Lycett said: ‘We know that there are sort of farms of scammers, people that are based abroad, that do this all the time, and very successfully.
‘So I think it’s unfortunately just the nature of the ability to get into contact with people across different platforms, social media, and then obviously texts and all the other things that it just makes it a viable business model.’
Discussing ‘sucker lists’ which contain people’s details on the dark web, show producer Michelle Cox told the hearing: ‘I know that you can buy people’s data for about 20 pence per person.
‘And it can have loads of information, such as their telephone numbers, addresses, or it can just have partial information.
‘But even that tiny little nugget can be enough for a fraudster to go ahead and commit their scam.
‘We did do some research where we bought a sucker list, with all the compliance and legal parameters in place, and we did try to contact a lot of people on the list to inform them that their data was for sale.’
She added that, because there is so much data, it is difficult to stop it being sold, ‘particularly because it’s so cheap – but where there’s a will, there’s a way’.