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NAB bank teller reveals ‘cunning’ reason he stopped customer from depositing $2,000

A bank worker has stopped a woman from losing thousands to a romance scam after spotting a red flag.

A Melbourne woman has been stopped from sending thousands of dollars to her overseas “boyfriend” by a NAB bank teller.

The woman, who is in her 60s, visited a NAB branch in Cranbourne, determined to deposit $2,000 to her boyfriend, who claimed he was sick and needed money for treatment.

She said her boyfriend lived in Turkey and needed to fly to the UK for treatment. But he claimed his bank account had been frozen so she needed to send the money to his friend in Sydney instead.

NAB banker Dilan Pathirannahalage
A NAB bank teller has been praised for stopping a customer from making this transaction. (Source: NAB)

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

NAB customer adviser Dilan Pathirannahalage was helping the woman with the deposit and said alarm bells went off when she said she didn’t know the recipient’s surname.

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“The reason she didn’t know who she was transferring the funds to was because she had never met the person on the other end of the line who she thought was her boyfriend, and so didn’t know their friends either,” Pathirannahalage said.

He ended up doing some more digging into the woman’s story and was shown a series of text messages between her and her supposed boyfriend.

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“The messages were very lovey-dovey, and looked like they were getting increasingly coercive,” Pathirannahalage said.

The final red flag came when the woman’s “boyfriend” called her while she was at the bank, asking her when she was transferring the money.

Woman ‘blinded by love’

Pathirannahalage said he needed to “act fast” to convince the woman she was being scammed, and advised her not to deposit the money.

“Even though the holes in the scammer’s story were clear to me, she was blinded by her love for him. These criminals are cunning and will prey on people’s kindness to steal their money,” he said.

Pathirannahalage contacted the fraud team, who helped investigate and take action. He said the woman was “thankful” he intervened.

NAB ATMs
NAB says romance scams have increased 29 per cent year on year. (Source: AAP)

Scamwatch estimates Aussies lost $33 million to romance and friendship scams in 2023, with NAB reporting the scams had increased by 29 per cent, year on year.

NAB group investigations executive Chris Sheehan said the scams could have a “devastating” financial and emotional impact, with people of all ages, genders and demographics targeted.

“While many Aussies now start long and successful relationships online, it is vital to know how to recognise a potential partner from a scammer,” Sheehan said.

Warning signs include the person expressing strong feelings quickly and the relationship moving fast, Scamwatch said. It could also be a red flag if they encourage secrecy and try to get you to trust only them, and if there is always an excuse why you can’t meet in person or on video.

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