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Aussie couple’s ‘nightmare’ after losing $50,000 in HSBC bank scam

The Melbourne couple have lost part of their first home deposit and say they feel HSBC isn’t taking their complaint seriously.

A Melbourne couple have been left “devastated” after losing nearly $50,000 in a sophisticated phone call scam, just as they are about to settle on their first home.

Two weeks ago, HSBC customer Jo received a no-caller-ID phone call from someone who claimed to work for the bank's fraud team.

The man had a British accent and claimed there had been an unusual transaction of $14,000 made from her bank account.

Image of couple Jo and Rohan with faces blurred and the scam transactions in HSBC account.
A Melbourne couple have lost $50,000 after falling victim to a sophisticated phone call scam. (Source: Supplied)

Have you fallen victim to a scammer? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

“He was very convincing. He knew my name, my number, my transaction limit - information that only the bank would know,” Jo told Yahoo Finance.

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Jo started panicking and said she gave him her banking username. She was then sent text message codes, which she read over the phone. The next minute, she saw $50,000 had been transferred from her joint bank account to her personal HSBC account for supposed “safekeeping”.

Jo’s husband, Rohan, received a text message about the transaction and, sensing something wasn’t right, immediately called Jo to see what was happening.

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“I rang HSBC straight away and reported the fraud. I said, ‘You need to shut our accounts down straight away’,” Rohan told Yahoo Finance.

“I don’t know whether they believed me because they gave me a case number at the time and said, ‘It looks like we’ll be able to stop it. It’s just gone to another HSBC account’.”

While this was happening, the scammer was able to make two transactions of $24,600 and $24,289 out of Jo’s bank account, with the couple losing nearly $50,000 meant for their first home deposit.

‘Absolutely devastated’

The scam couldn’t have come at a worse time, with Jo and Rohan set to settle on their first home this week.

The couple had been saving for a home for five years and said they were only able to get into an “extremely tough” property market following a family member’s death.

“We’ve been in a really dark place the last 12 months because I lost my father to suicide and the only thing we were looking forward to was getting a new home and getting our first home,” Jo said.

“This has just left us absolutely devastated because it’s been a complete nightmare. We didn’t ask for this.”

The couple were worried they may lose the house but managed to scrape together enough money to cover the deposit. But they said it would take them years to save up $50,000 again if they weren’t able to get their money back.

HSBC ‘treating them like criminals’

HSBC’s response added even further stress, with Jo and Rohan told they would have to wait up to 52 days to receive an outcome on the investigation.

They said they’d also received conflicting information from the bank and struggled to gain access to their joint account in order to pay the conveyancer their home deposit.

HSBC email about the suspicious transactions
Jo said HSBC emailed her about the suspicious transactions hours after they had occurred. (Source: Supplied)

Rohan said he just wanted HSBC to “take the complaint seriously and feel like we’re actually being listened to”.

“I feel as though the bank is treating us as the criminals when we were actually the victims here,” Jo said.

In a statement, an HSBC spokesperson told Yahoo Finance they could not discuss specific customer services due to privacy reasons.

“HSBC takes customer security very seriously and we thoroughly investigate any reported cases of scam or fraud, and the outcome is very much dependent on the particular facts of each case,” the spokesperson said.

Bank-impersonation scams rife

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has urged Aussies to be wary of phone calls and texts that appear to be from their bank, with Aussies already losing $11.37 million to bank-impersonation scams this year.

According to Scamwatch, scammers are now using new technology to trick their victims and can make calls appear to come from a bank’s legitimate phone number or send text messages that appear in the same conversation thread as genuine bank messages.

Red flags include communications with a sense of urgency, such as a caller claiming there has been fraudulent activity or your account has been frozen.

The ACCC also said to watch out for messages that looked different from other previous genuine communication, messages with suspicious links or phone numbers, and callers who tell you to transfer money into a different account to “keep it safe”.

Meanwhile, Jo said the scammer contacted her again a week later and tried to convince her to transfer more money so he could try to track down the scammers. Jo hung up on him.

She is now urging other Aussies to not pick up any phone calls from no-caller-ID numbers and to be alert to people claiming to be from bank fraud squads.

“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. We’re just the average battlers.”

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