While we are constantly told to look for scams, sometimes they can be incredibly hard to pick.
Michelle Lowry thought she was investing in government and bank bonds when she lost $750,000 of her savings.
Lowry was looking for term deposits online when she came across a website for EQR Securities.
“I checked that they were a registered company with ASIC and that they had an Australian financial securities license number,” Lowry said. A current matter.
“I have also given the information to my accountant… so that he can verify the legality of the purchase of the bonds and the company.”
In December, Lowry went to her local bank and transferred her money to a designated account.
Lowry said she was in touch with what she believed to be the company that was buying bonds on her behalf and after believing she had received money, she logged into the online portal once to find her receipts but was unable to log in afterwards.
“I kept asking about Will Hughes, what was the name of the man at EQR Securities I was dealing with,” she said.
Another woman, Jody Bridges, who… A current matter interviewed in May, lost $500,000 in a similar scam.
Bridges claimed she was also duped by a man with a British accent named “Will Hughes”.
Lowry said after trying to call Hughes, “Suddenly EQR Securities didn’t have a phone number”.
“He couldn’t be contacted and I went online to get to their website and everything was deleted,” she said.
Sarosh Kalapesi, 75, wanted to invest in bonds when he lost $100,000 after entering his details on a fake bond comparison website called Savings Connection.
“(He) called me and said he was from NAB and that he was going to be the account manager,” Kalapesi said.
“I told him I couldn’t invest more than $100,000 a day because there is a limit on my bank…so the first amount I transferred was $59.74 or something like a trial run.
“The next day I deposited $100,000 and that time CBA called me early in the morning at about 8 am and said they hadn’t processed the amount because they think it’s a fraud account.”
Kalapesi authorized the second transaction, but then grew suspicious and attempted to meet the alleged scammer in person.
He said he knew he had been “duped” when he was not given an address to meet.
Kalapesi then contacted the police and both banks to try to stop the payment on the same day, but it still went through.
How do you recognize scams
NSW Police Cybercrime Squad Commander Matt Craft has some tips on how to spot a fake.
“So with the URL, we’d see changes in letters where you’d use a ‘K’ instead of a ‘C’, you’d use hyphens, maybe periods,” Craft said.
“They can’t use that company’s legitimate URL, so they need to get something close.”
His next tip is to take a close look at the contact page and add that there are potential red flags to watch out for when it comes to a ProtonMail email address.
“On that particular service, it’s often encrypted and it’s an anonymous way to communicate,” Craft said.
“A legit company just won’t use that.”
Craft said people should also pay attention to 1800 numbers.
“While they have legitimate uses, they are (also) associated with fraud,” he explained.
He advised against sending money to someone you don’t know and can’t identify – especially if there’s no address on the contact page.
Chris Satchi of the Australian Bond Exchange said if you’re investing in government bonds, don’t be fooled by a good offer.
“The reality is they pay about half to one percent a year. Most scams will offer you five, five-and-a-half,” Satchi said.
“So right away, if it’s more than one (percent), it’s a red flag.”
Statement from a CBA spokesperson
“We are always very concerned when we become aware of fraud and scams affecting customers and the wider community. Despite the efforts and efforts of regulators, law enforcement agencies and the banking industry, unfortunately, such frauds and scams still occur. We are assessing frauds and scams on a case-by-case basis, but it is widely recognized that scams are becoming more sophisticated, leading to increased industry-wide investment in resources, systems, data and intelligence to fight scams and alert the Australian public to the risks of the community faces.
“Customers need to stay vigilant, protect their banking information and be smart about who they send money to.
“Once we are notified of suspicious activity on an account, we work closely with other banks and law enforcement to take action and do our best to recover all funds.
“If you think you’ve been scammed or notice a transaction you didn’t make, contact your bank immediately. The best chance of getting a refund is if action is taken as soon as possible.”
Statement by Chris Sheehan, Executive, Group Investigations, NAB Fraud
We have seen a significant increase in scams in recent years and unfortunately these have devastating consequences for affected victims. Investment scams, in particular, remain one of the top four types of scams our clients report, alongside romance scams, business email compromise, and remote scams.
As soon as we learned that CBA’s customer had been the victim of a scam, we immediately blocked the account and conducted further investigation. We will always make every effort to prevent these scams and recover money where possible. However, once the money is in a victim’s account, it can often be difficult to get it back due to the sophistication of these criminals and the speed with which these payments are made.
That’s why it’s so important for people to stay vigilant and stay alert to what to watch out for to protect themselves from scams. Never be pressured to pay for anything immediately during a cold call or conversation, and be sure to confirm the identity of the person you are sending money to before completing a transaction. It’s best to treat these transfers like handing over cash to someone you don’t know, so think twice before making the payment.
NAB invests heavily in the latest cybersecurity and fraud detection capabilities with a dedicated team that monitors customers’ accounts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for suspicious activity. If you believe you have been the victim of a scam or notice fraudulent activity, take action and contact your bank immediately.
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