A Bunbury pensioner has reported to the Department of Commerce (Consumer Protection) that he has lost over $44,000 in a scam. A cold caller pretending to work for the West Australian Banking Association offered a refund of thousands of dollars in overcharged bank fees, once lawyer and bank fees were paid.
The scammer convinced the pensioner to send money via Western Union wire transfer service. Western Union is a preferred payment method of scammers due to lack of traceability. Unfortunately, once the money has been picked up, there is no way to retrieve it.
After sending some payments of hundreds of dollars, the payments increased to more than $2,000 per transaction. When the man wanted to back out, the scammer threatened him with harm and made the man feel guilty. Over a period of about 3 and a half weeks, the man sent $44,320.
The scammer’s phone number appears to be based in the Eastern states but scammers regularly use a re-routing system which makes overseas numbers appear with Australian pre-fixes.
Between November 2012 and January 2013 the Department of Commerce (Consumer Protection) received 11 scam enquiries from people who had been contacted by callers claiming to be from the Australian Banking Association or Australian Banking Organisation.
Some points to note:
- NEVER wire transfer money to someone unless you know and trust the person
- No government agencies ever take payment via wire transfer e.g. Western Union or EziPay
- Government agencies or legitimate official organisations will never call you out of the blue to offer you money and ask for payment first for you to access the funds.
- Victims of scams can call the Department of Commerce (Consumer Protection) advice line on 1300 30 40 54 or report the matter to WA Police.
- Don’t forget you can use the WA ScamNet website to research whether something suspicious is a scam.