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How a wrong turn stopped 84-year-old being scammed out of ‘thousands’

·3-min read
SA Police stopped this man from depositing thousands into the bank account of a scammer. (Source: Getty)
SA Police stopped this man from depositing thousands into the bank account of a scammer. (Source: Getty)

It’s not often someone can say being stopped by police was the best thing to happen to them that day.

But that’s the case for an elderly North Adelaide resident, who nearly became the unwitting victim of a hefty scam.

He was saved only because he made a wrong turn that attracted the attention of South Australia Police.

Around 11am on Monday, the 84-year-old was spotted by SA Eastern District patrol police making an “unauthorised turn” in Adelaide’s CBD.

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Police stopped the man and advised him of the road rules, before it emerged that he was in the city in search of a “specific bank to deposit a large amount of money”.

“A conversation with the man revealed he was in fact the victim of a scam after receiving a phone call from someone purporting to be from a major bank,” according to a statement from SA Police.

The scammer had told the elderly man that he was from the fraud division of a major bank and that two illegal transactions had been made from his account.

The scammer then encouraged the elderly man to help catch the criminals, and asked the 84-year-old to withdraw a “large amount of cash” to deposit into another account that would result in the arrests of the fake criminals.

However, what started as a traffic stop by SA Police meant they were able to prevent the scam from going ahead and any money from being transferred.

How to protect yourself against scams

Beware of scammers who often contact people by phone or on the internet, the SA Police said.

To protect yourself, hang up when you’re called by someone you don’t know. And if you’re not sure if the person calling from the institution is really who they say they are, call them back on a number found through their website or another legitimate source.

“Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

“Never send money online or transfer money to someone you haven't met in person.”

WATCH BELOW: 4 Tips for Spotting and Avoiding Common Scams

The increase in scams, and the amount of money lost, have alarmed authorities and large institutions recently as popular brands such as Australia Post and Big Four banks are spoofed regularly by online criminals.

So far this year, Australians have lost more than $192 million to scammers, which is already more than the $175.7 million lost the year prior, according to Scamwatch.

The real figures are likely much higher, as these figures are only of those who report their losses to Scamwatch.

By far the most popular or dangerous scams are investment scams, with malicious actors exploiting the interest in cryptocurrency.

Australians have been fleeced $70 million in investment scams just in the first six months of 2021 alone, eclipsing total losses across all of 2020.

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