When Elizabeth* entered the Camperdown branch in southwestern Victoria, Lauren knew something was up.
“I could tell as soon as she walked in that something wasn’t right,” said Lauren Huth, Customer Adviser at Camperdown.
“Elizabeth came in looking visibly distressed. When I asked how I could help, she explained she was in a hurry to transfer some funds to her daughter in order to help her pay some bills.”
Lauren took Elizabeth to one of the iPads in the branch so she could login to her Internet Banking while asking some questions to find out more.
“She started telling me how her daughter had broken her phone and wasn’t able to pay the bills herself,” Ms Huth said.
“When she said this, I realised this was probably the WhatsApp scam that I’d just read about on Workplace (NAB’s internal social media) about half an hour before she came in.”
Elizabeth then showed a message exchange over WhatsApp with who she thought was her daughter.
“I thought it looked a bit too formal for an exchange between family members and Elizabeth said ‘my daughter never calls me Elizabeth, she calls me ‘Mum’.”
Lauren then suggested Elizabeth asks a question that only they both knew the answer to.
Elizabeth then asked: “what’s the name of our dog?”
A few seconds later, Elizabeth received a photo of her dog from her own Facebook account.
“The scammer was then saying things like ‘as if I’ve forgotten our dog – here he is’, but you could tell they had no idea.”
Lauren then told Elizabeth to block the number, shut down the chat and to contact her daughter on a trusted number.
As her daughter was at work and away from her phone, she called her son-in-law who confirmed her phone was working fine and that she was at work.
“It was just fortunate that she came here to do this transaction instead of doing it at home so we could intervene. These scammers can get so creative and make it so believable. I’m just glad we could stop this from happening,” Ms Huth said.
Tips on how to stay protected from these scams
Laura Hartley is NAB’s Manager Security, Advisory & Awareness and her role focuses on educating customers and colleagues about cyber threats and scams and how to stay safe.
“People should be wary of these types of scams where messages are received from people they supposedly know,” said Ms Hartley.
“If you’re ever unsure, you should contact the person via another trusted channel such as their usual mobile number or email address to confirm the request first.”
If you have received this type of text message and have sent funds or information, please contact your local branch or call 13 22 65 immediately.
For more information on how to stay safe, head to nab.com.au/security
*Name changed to protect customer’s privacy