Bank Refuses To Reimburse $32,000 Stolen From Grandma With Terminal Illness in Text Message Scam: Report
A grandmother with a terminal illness says an Australia-based bank should have been able to stop a scam as it unfolded in real time.
Lyn Reads says she’s a victim of a scammer who stole about $50,000 AUD – worth about $32,000 USD – from her bank account, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Reads initially received a text message that appeared to be from Bendigo Bank.
When she called the number in the message, she spoke with a criminal who convinced her that her account was under attack. Reads handed over her six-digit passcode, allowing the scammer to transfer her funds to two accounts at the same bank.
When Reads began to suspect she had been duped by a scammer, she immediately visited her local branch.
According to Reads, a teller saved a few thousand dollars in her account, and said the lender’s fraud team “should have the money back within two weeks.”
But nine months later, Reads is still engaged in a dispute with the bank to recover her money.
Documents reportedly show it took the bank more than an hour after Reads notified her local branch before the accounts in question were labeled as “mule accounts” – accounts that are used to collect funds on behalf of criminals.
By that time, however, the funds were already gone.
Reads says the bank should have acted sooner, considering that the accounts involved in the theft were also with Bendigo Bank. She also says the bank should have flagged the highly unusual transfers from her account.
“They were large sums of money and it was quite out of the ordinary for me.”
Bendigo Bank argues Reads is responsible for the loss since she divulged her passcode to the scammer.
Reads, who has terminal cancer, says she’s depending on the money to enjoy her remaining days, spend time with her kids and grandchildren and to pay for her own funeral.
Last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it received more than 14,500 reports of bank impersonation scams, which led to over $20 million AUD in losses.
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