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NAB banker stops scammer rinsing 'every cent' from 'fragile' elderly man after strange request

The 80-year-old made a peculiar request when he walked into the branch and it set off alarm bells for banker Sarah Woods.

A NAB banker has saved an elderly man from losing all the money in his account to a confronting scam. Sarah Woods knew something was up when the 80-year-old customer walked into her Hobart branch and made a peculiar request.

The man said he wanted to withdraw $10,000 from his account and for the money to be made into a cheque with his name on it. When Woods asked him what the money was for, he told her it was "renovations".

“Every time I asked him about his renovations he gave me a different answer,” she said.

NAB banker Sarah Woods next to insert of elderly man
Alarm bells rang for NAB banker Sarah Woods when an elderly customer came in and asked to withdraw $10,000. She said it was most likely a scam. (Source: Supplied/Getty)

Do you have a story of being scammed? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

“He was getting more and more uncomfortable and said ‘I’ve really got to do this and get out of here’ and that’s when I knew I wasn’t going to take the money out for him.

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“I told him I was very concerned about what the money was for and these were red flags for a scam.”

Woods asked why the man came into the bank branch and he eventually revealed he received a call from an anonymous person earlier in the day. They told him to drain his account and ask for the money in a cheque.

They also told him to lie about what the money was for and not to trust any of the staff at the branch.

The banker noticed the 80-year-old looked "fragile" and "panicked" when he was talking about the phone call.

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“He looked at me, held my hand and told me everything about the call he’d received, the demand the scammers made for a bank cheque and the lie they wanted him to tell me," she said.

“He said the scammers got angry with him on the phone, they made threats and told him not to trust bank staff.”

Woods prevented the man from withdrawing the money and he was very thankful she pushed him for more information.

“He told me ‘You’ve actually saved every cent of my money’ and from that point on we had a little bond and he kept cuddling me," Woods recalled. “It’s so rewarding to know I’ve saved this man’s money but it shows that scammers will stop at nothing.”

The NAB banker, who has been in the industry for 16 years, told the customer to be wary of random phone calls from people and gave him advice on what to do if it happens again.

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How do I protect myself from scammers?

Aussies lost a record $3.1 billion to scammers last year, an 80 per cent increase on the previous year.

Scamwatch warn to beware of the following scenarios:

  • It’s an amazing opportunity to make or save money

  • Someone you haven’t met needs your help - and money

  • The message contains links or attachments

  • You feel pressured to act quickly

  • They ask you to pay in an unusual or specific way

  • They ask you to set up new accounts or Pay ID

What should I do if I think I’ve been scammed?

Contact your bank and report the scam. Ask them to stop transactions and stop sending any money.

Report the scam to Scamwatch here and make an official complaint to police here.

Watch out for follow up scams, particularly ones promising they can get your money back. Scamwatch warned one in three victims of a scam are scammed more than once.

Lastly, get support for yourself. You can talk to a financial counsellor or reach out to BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or here for an online chat or Lifeline for crisis support online here on 13 11 14.

You can also contact IDCARE to “reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation”.