Aussie woman loses life savings after falling for cruel banking scam

Sep 16, 2020
Ann Miles has fallen victim to a cruel banking scam. Source: A Current Affair/9Now.

An Australian woman has been cheated out of more than $30,000 after falling for a cruel banking scam. Appearing on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair program, Ann Miles revealed she was duped into paying out a total of $36,000 — her entire life savings — after receiving a call allegedly from the St George Bank fraud team, which she believed to be legitimate.

Ann revealed that when she questioned the caller’s legitimacy he gave her a number to call back on. “The girl said to me ‘St George bank fraud section can I help you?’ It was how a business should operate,” she told the program, according to a recount in 9Now.

The scammer told Ann they needed her to play a role in an Australian Federal Police (AFP) operation to catch a network of scam artists, and over the next few weeks instructed her to withdraw significant amounts of money from her account and then deposit the money into another account.

“I love to help people, I’d do anything for anybody — and I thought, wow, to be able to help the AFP to bust up a scamming ring would be fantastic,” she told A Current Affair.

However, Ann soon realised it was all but a scam and is now sharing her story in a bid to help others from falling victim to the same scam. “I just went to water, I just lost it then,” she recalled.

Also appearing on Tuesday night’s program, Nick Savvides, Chief Technology Officer for APAC at Forcepoint, said “no bank is going to call you and ask you to be a part of a police sting”.

“They’re not going to ask you to put your own money at stake, your own safety at stake and to help them catch a criminal,” he added.

Nick went on to say that consumers can protect themselves by turning on two-factor authentication, signing up for SMS alerts, having a unique and complex password, adding if you do receive a call from a bank, hang up and call them back on the number that’s on the back of your card.

“Don’t call them from the details that are in that communications because the scammers control those,” he said. “Scammers understand human psychology. They know which buttons to push. They create a sense of urgency and they make you question yourself, so you don’t question them.”

It comes after a report revealed Aussies lost more than half a billion dollars to scams in 2019. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) latest Targeting Scams report, released in June, consumers were cheated out of $634 million last year — which is up $145 million on the previous year.

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Have you ever fallen victim to a cruel scam? Do you think you'd know how to spot the signs?

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