A Queensland pensioner was on the verge of ending retirement and returning to work after he was scammed out of $10,000.
Gold Coast man Andrew Engel was recently duped by a prevalent scam that takes on the identity of Australian toll operator Linkt.
The scam sends a text with a link that sometimes mirrors the operator’s style. The website is also convincing, sharing a similar layout and branding.
Mr Engel told news.com.au that the $10,000 the scammers charged his Commonwealth bank credit card “might as well have been a $1 million.”
Scammers made ten separate purchases of $1000 gift cards from Kmart after his wife received the scam message in late September and used his card to pay the faux amount owed.
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“I made the mistake of paying the $5 for a supposed unpaid toll in Brisbane, and I can’t remember if I received a verification code from the CBA for the $5 payment, but if I did, it would have been on my phone for me to confirm, I’m just a bit hazy on that point,” he said.
“The next day, ten consecutive $1000 withdrawals took place that I was oblivious about, and no bank verifications were received.”
“Then, the following day, the bank alerted me that they had frozen my card.”
He described himself as being quite perceptive when noticing scams, given their increasing prevalence.
Mr Engel waited a month for what he understood to be an investigation of fraud to be completed. He knew he had given the card details but hoped that the mitigating circumstances would help him avoid such a massive debt or that the Kmart payments could be recovered.
He was astonished when the bank wrote and said it was not liable for his losses. There was no mention of the scammers or the investigation, just a “dispute” between Mr Engel and the bank.
He was told: “Upon investigation, there was no changes made to your account leading up to the disputed transactions, indicating the disputed transaction/s were authorised and/or completed by yourself.”
“As you voluntarily gave your account details to a third party, your card security has been compromised, and you are responsible for these transactions,” the bank’s Group Fraud Management Services said.
“We believe the transactions were performed by either yourself or another person with your consent and/or knowledge.”
Scammers had set up a third-party digital wallet on their devices despite Mr Engel being adamant he never received a verification code nor shared it with a third party.
That was how scammers were able to make the transaction.
“Upon investigation, the disputed transaction(s) have been processed using the digital wallet successfully set up using this secure code, indicating you have entered or disclosed this code to a third party,” he was told by CBA.
Mr Engel spoke of the predicament earlier this week, saying the ordeal had left him facing a dire future.
“I’m now faced with getting on the work bonus scheme where I can earn $150 a week without reducing my pension,” he told news.com.au earlier this week.
“They have a responsibility to their customers. That letter and that response doesn’t show any responsibility at all. That letter basically accuses me of being involved.” he said.
All hope seemed lost until the media picked up his case his week.
On Thursday, after a miraculous change of heart, Mr Engel was offered a goodwill offer of $10,000 from Commonwealth, which was to be paid into his card.
“We are always very concerned when we are made of aware of frauds and scams affecting customers and the wider community. Despite the commitment and best efforts of regulators, law enforcement agencies and the banking industry, such frauds and scams sadly still occur,” a CBA spokesperson told news.com.au.
“We review frauds and scams on a case-by-case basis; however it is widely recognised that scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, which has prompted increased investment across the sector in resources, systems, data and intelligence to combat scams and alert the Australian public to the risks the community faces.
“Customers need to remain vigilant, protect their banking details and be smart about who they send money to.
“We offer our customers the benefit from our 100 per cent security guarantee from unauthorised transactions on personal and business accounts where customers take the necessary steps to stay safe online. Where there is fraudulent activity, our process is to fully reimburse our customers as quickly as possible to minimise inconvenience.
Me Engel was elated by the news.
“It’s the first time I’ve felt the pressure relieved in some time,” he said.
“I am thankful that the bank’s process of getting a case officer to review the circumstances led to an outcome that has help me regain confidence in the system.
“My simple and easy advice beyond platitudes like ‘be careful’ would be to have a two-step verification, limit the maximum amount on your card to what is sensible, and set a low daily limit.
“It’s easy to increase the limit for a short time if needed. Those three things would have saved me and stopped the scammers dead in their tracks and from getting access to such a large amount”.
“I also hope there are some lessons for the bank in this episode.”
The ACCC’s Scamwatch has received over 4500 reports about Linkt unpaid toll road phishing scams, with over $250,000 in reported losses.
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