A Tasmanian couple has been saved from an online investment scam by their bank teller, who refused to allow the couple to transfer $40,000 from their account.
The request immediately set off alarm bells for Erin Bugg, a customer adviser at NAB Bank.
The couple told her they had tried to transfer $40,000 — the first of what would have been two instalments — to an online investment firm in Perth and their account was now blocked.
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The firm was promising a 12 per cent return on their term deposit and a guaranteed pay-out if the firm went bust.
“If there was a scam red flags bingo card, ‘online investment opportunity’ would be top of the list,” Bugg said.
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“Immediately, alarm bells went off for me. It sounded like an investment scam and I was concerned this couple could lose their life savings.”
The customers maintained the legitimacy of the transaction, so Bugg looked into it.
The firm had a website and had been featured in news articles, but the rates on offer were “too good to be true”.
“No one likes to be told they’re being lied to, especially when they feel like they’ve done all the right things,” she said.
“They had done their own research, and even spoken to the company on the phone.
“Then the wife mentioned the man that keeps ringing her to thank her for the investment and prompting her to open the account.
“This sounded more alarm bells for me, and I continued to try to explain why this is likely a scam.”
Bugg contacted NAB’s fraud team to get some information about the couple’s account being blocked, while the couple called the “investment firm” and put them on loudspeaker.
“I was becoming very overwhelmed by the situation unfolding in front of me,” Bugg said.
“I declined to speak to the ‘firm’, but I could hear them telling the customers, ‘Oh, NAB always flags us as a scam …’
“The fraud team agreed with me that this was exactly that – an elaborate scam.”
NAB’s fraud team confirmed the “firm” had a bank account with another bank, and advised the couple to visit that bank and inquire about the legitimacy of the account.
The couple left to do just that — and called Bugg a few hours later to tell her she had been right.
The other bank had confirmed the account was not connected to the investment firm, and strongly advised them not to transfer any money into that account.
“It was such a relief to hear from the customer that they’d avoided being scammed,” Bugg said.
“I was put in a difficult position with all the pressure on me, and I’m so glad I didn’t waver — I stood my ground and followed my gut, preventing them from losing their life savings.”