It was a normal day at the Rosny branch in Tasmania for NAB Customer Advisor Erin Bugg, until a couple came in to unblock their account.
The husband and wife proceeded to explain to Ms Bugg that they had tried to transfer $40,000 (the first of what would have been two instalments) to an online investment firm in Perth. The firm was promising a 12% return on their term deposit and a guaranteed pay out if the firm went bust.
“If there was a scam red flags bingo card, ‘online investment opportunity’ would be top of the list,” said Ms Bugg.
“Immediately, alarm bells went off for me. It sounded like an investment scam and I was concerned this couple could lose their life savings.”
The customers were adamant it was not a scam, so Erin did some digging. At first glance it appeared real – there was a website and even news articles about the firm, but a review of the rates they were offering confirmed it was literally too good to be true.
“No one likes to be told they’re being lied to, especially when they feel like they’ve done all the right things. They had done their own research, and even spoken to the company on the phone. Then the wife mentioned the man that keeps ringing her to thank her for the investment and prompting her to open the account. This sounded more alarm bells for me, and I continued to try to explain why this is likely a scam,” she said.
The customers were becoming desperate – they just wanted their account unblocked so they could proceed with the investment. While Erin was on the phone to Fraud to understand why the account was blocked, the customers rang the scammers and put them on loudspeaker to convince Erin it was real.
“I was becoming very overwhelmed by the situation unfolding in front of me. I declined to speak to the ‘firm’, but I could hear them telling the customers, ‘Oh, NAB always flags us as a scam…’. The Fraud team agreed with me that this was exactly that – an elaborate scam.”
The Fraud team advised Erin that the ‘firm’ had a bank account at another bank, and the couple would be wise to visit that bank to enquire about the legitimacy of the account. If that bank was happy with the legitimacy of the account, then they would be free to proceed with the transaction. The couple left to walk to the other bank’s branch nearby.
A few hours later the customer called back. They told Erin she had been right and her cautiousness saved them from transferring their life savings to a scammer.
The other bank had confirmed the account was not connected to the investment firm, and strongly advised them not to transfer any money into that account.
“It was such a relief to hear from the customer that they’d avoided being scammed. I was put in a difficult position with all the pressure on me, and I’m so glad I didn’t waiver – I stood my ground and followed my gut, preventing them from losing their life savings.”
Find out more about how you can spot an investment scam here, or visit nab.com.au/fraud.
Read about other investment scams here.
Stay up to date with the latest scams and fraud advice available on NAB’s security hub.