If you’ve ever been scammed, you’ll know it’s a harrowing experience. The impact of scams isn’t just financial. It can cause emotional and physical harm to victims, often affecting family, friends and entire communities.
Scams cost consumers, businesses and the economy hundreds of millions of dollars each year. According to Scamwatch, so far in 2022, Australians have lost more than $380 million to scams.
While it’s easy to think it would never happen to you, every year in Australia millions of people become victims, with romance scams among common scams we see at ANZ.
A bad romance
When Anna, an ANZ customer for more than 20 years, connected with John online they immediately struck up a friendship. John worked in luxury commodities overseas and as they were living in different time-zones the couple only communicated via online messaging.
Anna was drawn to John’s charm and as their romantic relationship progressed John convinced Anna he could help build her savings for their future together.
In the months that followed, Anna followed John’s instructions, making multiple transactions to cryptocurrency wallets and bank accounts and purchased gift cards, together totalling $30,000. After many transactions and a request for a substantial payment, ’John’ confessed he was in fact a scammer.
Horrified at this revelation, Anna reported the scam to ANZ. Like most scam victims, Anna was humiliated by the experience and when ANZ asked Anna for more details about John and the scam, Anna left some information out and assured the bank she had met her ‘boyfriend’ face-to face.
Later, when Anna confessed she’d not been completely honest, ANZ was able to conduct a more thorough investigation, contacting the receiving banks to try to recover the funds. But unfortunately, it was too late. Too much time had passed and the scammer had already withdrawn the money.