Money & Banking
"They make you question yourself": Senior loses life savings in elaborate police scam
Ann Miles had no idea what she would be getting herself into when she answered a call from what appeared to be the St George Bank fraud team.
She was alarmed when the person told her over the phone that she had been scammed and although she was initially hesitant of their legitimacy, she ended up believing them after they gave her a number to call back on.
“And the girl said to me 'St George bank fraud section can I help you?' It was how a business should operate,” she told A Current Affair.
The scammer went on to convince Ms Miles that they needed her to play a role in an AFP operation that would catch a network of scam artists.
"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," Ms Miles explained.
The scammer informed Ms Miles that she was involved in a highly confidential situation and that the details needed to remain top secret.
Over the course of two weeks, he instructed her to attend St George branches and withdraw significant amounts of money from her account.
The scammer then told Ms Miles that she had to drive to a bank and deposit the money into the account number they gave her.
Each time, she was assured the deposits were catching thieves and con artists.
All in all, Ms Miles was scammed out of $36,000 and she believed she was helping federal police the entire time.
Ms Miles was devastated when she realised her mistake.
“I just went to water, I just lost it then,” she said.
Nick Savvides, Chief Technology Officer for APAC at Forcepoint told A Current Affair: "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."
Mr Savvides says scammers have adapted their methods of scamming their victims, and one way is by encouraging people to take out their own money at atm’s and banks so no red flags are raised.
"If you turn up to the bank and say I want $5000 of my own money and you have the right documents and identification verifications with you, they're going to give it to you,” he said.
“It's your money after all."
Mr Savvides has urged consumers to protect themselves by turning on two-factor authentication, signing up for SMS alerts, having a unique and complex password, hanging up on people who claim to be the bank and instead call them back on their website’s number or off the back of your card.
"Don't call them from the details that are in that communications because the scammers controls those," Mr Savvides 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."
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