December 10, 2023


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Lyn wants her bank to refund the $50,000 she lost in a scam, money she needs to pay for her funeral#Lyn #bank #refund #lost #scam #money #pay #funeral

“Oh my God, they’re still moving the money.”

The bank teller was shocked when pensioner Lyn Read walked into her local Bendigo Bank branch one afternoon in January to tell her she was in the middle of scam, and the bank’s employee acted quickly.

“She shut it all down and said, ‘I’ll ring our fraud squad and get things sorted out’.

“And she said, you should have the money back within two weeks,” Mrs Read recalled.

The teller managed to stop the scammer’s final attempted transfer of $3000, but by then Mrs Read had already had $50,000 stolen from her account.

She would later find out, the teller hadn’t immediately been able to get onto the bank’s own fraud team.

Lyn Read wearing an aqua green sweater, is standing behind a kitchen counter, with boxes of her medication atop the bench.

Lyn Read has terminal cancer, in January 2023 she lost $50,000 in a scam.(ABC News: Madeleine Morris  )

Mrs Read has terminal cancer and doesn’t know how much time she has left to live.

She was relying on that money to enjoy the remainder of her days with her seven children and 13 grandchildren, and to do something that is important to her — to pay for her own funeral.

But she didn’t get the money back in two weeks.

Nine months on, Mrs Read is still fighting Bendigo Bank for reimbursement.

Mrs Read argues the bank should have acted faster to stop the money being transferred out of the scammer’s two accounts, which were also with Bendigo Bank, and that the bank’s systems should have picked up the highly unusual activity on her accounts.

“They were large sums of money and it was quite out of the ordinary for me,” she said.

Bendigo Bank argues that because Mrs Read gave her one-time six-digit internet banking passcode to the scammer, the loss is her responsibility.

The dispute speaks to the difficulties Australians face avoiding scams, and the challenges banks face keeping one step ahead of this huge global industry.

Australians lost $3b to scams last year

Mrs Read fell victim to a highly sophisticated, yet common scam, where a text purporting to be from her bank warned her of a questionable transaction.

Text message that Lyn received from the scammers, pretending to be from Lyn's bank, Bendigo Bank.

Lyn is the victim to a highly sophisticated yet common scam, where scammers reach out pretending to be from your bank.(ABC News)

Alarmed, she called the number on the text and got through to ‘Ricky’, who said he was from her bank.

Mrs Read says he seemed to already know all the details of her bank accounts, and told her she was being scammed, but he could fix it for her — he just needed her one-time six-digit passcode, which she gave.

This enabled Ricky to quickly increase her daily transfer limit, move money from her investments into her daily account, and then transfer the $50,000  into two accounts also held with the Bendigo Bank.

Bendigo Bank at Surrey Hills, there is a black car and a blue van parked on the street in front of it.

ABC News Breakfast has spoken to six scam victims who either banked with or transferred money into Bendigo Bank.(ABC News: Madeleine Morris)

The ACCC’s Scamwatch received 14,603 reports of bank impersonation scams in 2022, resulting in more than $20 million in losses.

“We are incredibly concerned about bank impersonation scams because they can be so convincing, they are very hard to detect,” ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said.

Lack of support from financial institutions

After being on the phone for about an hour, Mrs Read did become suspicious, and hot-footed it to her local branch.

The bank’s own records, seen by the ABC, indicate it was well over an hour after Mrs Read had first alerted the bank to the fraud that they raised cases of ‘mule accounts’.

By then, the money was long gone out of the two accounts.

The police investigation later identified the holder of one of the accounts as a young man in Sydney, who said he himself was the victim of a fake jobs advertisement and was unaware his account was being used for fraud.

Mrs Read’s daughter Alison has complained to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority about Bendigo’s response on the day, and their ongoing response to her mum’s scam, including what she calls a lack of responsiveness to the police investigation.

Alison Read walking wearing a blue jumper with her mum Lyn on her left. Lyn and Alison are walking the dog in a park.

Alison Read believes that Bendigo Bank did not act appropriately in her mum’s scam case.(ABC News: Madeleine Morris )

 She’s angry that even though her mum alerted the bank while the scam was still going on, the mule accounts weren’t blocked before her mum’s money was transferred overseas.

“There were a multitude of factors that didn’t happen on the Bendigo Bank’s behalf in a timely manner that could have changed the outcome,” she said.

Stephanie Tonkin, CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre agrees that Bendigo Bank should also assume some responsibility.

“They were on notice and they should be resourcing their systems to respond to the scam,” she said.

“If you look what is happening overseas, the banks would accept some responsibility. But we are so behind here, and the banks are driving the victim-blaming narrative,” she said.

#Lyn #bank #refund #lost #scam #money #pay #funeral

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