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Romance with a $30,000 price tag

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.”


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.


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 Too much time had passed and the scammer had already withdrawn the money.


Scams Awareness Week 2022


With scams rapidly evolving, ANZ works around the clock to get ahead of scam trends, working closely with others in the industry to respond to new and evolving scams. 


ANZ is partnering with the ACCC and the Scams Awareness Network for Scams Awareness Week 2022 (7-11 November).


Take the time on Scams Awareness Week to learn how to spot scams, how to avoid them, and how to get help. For more information visit: www.scamwatch.gov.au/scamsweek



Prevention is key


While it was a disappointing outcome for Anna, not all scams come to this. ANZ has a range of protection measures in place to help prevent scams and fraud.


Using new scam detection algorithms ANZ has successfully declined around $23.5m in scam transactions this year and recovered approximately $33m in scam related payments. 


In 2022, behavioural biometrics have enabled ANZ to detect approximately 3,600 fraudulent applications, preventing nearly $40 million in identity fraud. This innovative technology takes behavioural signals and key stroke movements from customer interactions to identify situations where it’s likely a device is being used by an imposter or fraudster.


While we have these measures in place to protect customers, the best way to protect yourself is by knowing what to look for and thinking twice before you act.


Staying ahead of scams


Look out for:

  • A person or message urging you to act quickly, whether it’s a threat to make an urgent payment, a request for upfront payment or a limited opportunity too good to miss.
  • A person or a message asking you to update or provide your personal details, such as identifying information, banking details or passwords.
  • A person or a message asking for remote access to your device.
  • Any payment request via unsecure or unusual methods such as cryptocurrency, gift cards or bank transfer.
  • A person or suspicious message claiming they have new contact details or asking for payment to a new bank account.
  • Anyone offering unsolicited financial or investment advice or claiming you can make fast or guaranteed money with little to no risk.
  • A person whom you’ve never met, but may have been chatting with online, asking you for money for any reason.


Protecting yourself:

  • Don’t click on or download anything you don’t trust, especially in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.
  • If unsure, check a communication is real by contacting the person or organisation directly, using details you’ve found yourself.
  • Scammers can spoof phone numbers and emails so they appear to be sent from a genuine source.
  • Don’t automatically trust something just because it appears in a previous conversation with a trusted source.
  • Never allow anyone, who calls you out of the blue, to have remote access to your devices. Anyone asking for your passwords or access to your device is likely a scammer.
  • Always use a unique PIN for your device and don’t share it with anyone. Keep your operating system and apps up to date; these updates may have important security features.
  • Scammers will tell you to download remote control software and to log into applications which will allow them to access your banking and personal information to impersonate you or steal your money.
  • Do not let anyone who calls you unexpectedly access your devices – just hang up.


Be careful with payments

  • If a known contact claims they have a “new” bank account, phone number or other details, call the person to confirm using a trusted number you’ve used before.
  • If you’ve sent money or shared your banking or credit card details, contact your financial institution immediately.


For more information visit www.scamwatch.gov.au


Ruth Talalla is Scams Portfolio Lead at ANZ