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HomeNewsWorldBank Reimburses AUD$460K to Dementia Depositor Ff Major Scam

Bank Reimburses AUD$460K to Dementia Depositor Ff Major Scam


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A 78-year-old man from Australia got a major win despite being diagnosed with dementia. His bank decided to repay him what he lost to scammers explaining they “could have done more” to support their client.

Alex Shaw from Hobart is a depositor of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) for several years and has entrusted his life savings to the bank. However, con artists from Thailand got a hold of his account and siphoned off all his money totaling AUD $460,000 (or about USD$300,000). He was diagnosed with dementia shortly after the scam and his son, Victor, was devastated with what happened.

Victor was with his father at the bank when he first found out about the lost money. “Your dad has been the victim of a scam,” the ANZ staff member informed him.

“I found out that he lost pretty much most of his life savings,” the Anglican church rector said. “My dad hadn’t shared this with me. Whether that was because he didn’t want to bother me or because he was a bit confused about it, I’m not really sure.”

Victor knew that trying to recoup all the money was impossible. Getting the story on how his father got scammed was likewise difficult since the elder Shaw has been losing his mental faculties in recent years.

“Day to day, he’s kind of fine,” Victor told ABC News Au. “But that higher-level paperwork kind-of-stuff [like] managing finances… was just really beyond him. Getting the straight narrative as to what had happened… I couldn’t really work it out.”

Paper trail

In a stroke of luck, Alex had created an informal paper trail with his conversations with the scammers. A meticulous notetaker, he wrote down his interactions with people, including the dates, names and details of communications with strangers.

Victor learned that the swindlers asked his father to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards and send the serial numbers to a phone number in Thailand, or click links that were supposed to give thousands of dollars in grant money. Other notes suggested Alex to transfer money into a cryptocurrency account and several references to AnyDesk.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

AnyDesk is a program used by fraudsters to remotely access a victim’s phone and computer. With the program, the scammers were able to transfer large amounts of money between $10,000 and $25,000 from Alex’s account.

ANZ noticed the unusual money transactions and suspended Alex’s account. But, the account was later reactivated. Turns out, the scammers “coached” Victor’s dad how to get the bank to reactivate the account. “Ask them to unlock my account. Do not mention AnyDesk,” one of Alex’s notes read. That was when his account was fleeced.

Victor filed a complaint with ANZ but wasn’t optimistic. The big four banks in the country reimbursed only $21 million out of more than half a billion dollars lost through scams in 2021-2022.

“They just said, ‘Look, we’re going to try and recover it, normally we can get a little bit, but don’t hold out too much hope,'” Victor recalled.

Suprise decision

Three months later, Victor received a letter from the ANZ that shocked him.

“Following our review of this matter…ANZ recognizes that it could have done more to support Mr Shaw given his history with scams,” the bank stated. “Considering Mr. Shaw’s vulnerability and the impact the scam has had on him, we will reimburse the scam transactions totaling $460,174.04.”

Victor was stunned. As a cleric, he has never heard of anyone who was able to get back in full what they lost in a scam.

“Every single person I’ve spoken to about this has been very surprised, and it was not what we were expecting at all,” he said. “We thought we might get a few thousand dollars back or something. But [it’s an] incredible relief. I was just completely blown away. Absolutely astonished.”

ANZ released a statement saying scams are an “insidiuous problem” that affects the entire banking industry.

“Unfortunately, we do see instances when cyber criminals target some of our most vulnerable customers,” revealed Shaq Johnson, ANZ’s head of customer protection. “Due to the callous nature of this illegal activity, criminals will coach and emotionally manipulate their victims to gain access to their bank accounts and funds.”

According to the Australian government, there were 401,300 Australians living with dementia in 2022 which is equivalent to 15 people per 1,000 Australians.

The bank urges the children or relatives of those with dementia to secure and protect not only the individual, but their assets as well.

Victor has now set up power of attorney over the account to secure his dad’s savings.

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Joyce Dimaculangan
Joyce Dimaculangan
Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest in reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at [email protected].


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