The glossy con that cost one couple $146,000 after they were hoodwinked by a ‘slick professional’ scam – and how crafty bank bosses got the cash back

  • Scammed couple sharing their harrowing ordeal to warn others
  • Bank managed to reclaim money after flagging suspicious transaction
  • Officials have warned it’s not usually the case for scammed victims

An elderly retired couple were scammed of their hard earned savings before their bank saved the day.

Anita and Thomas Jacobsen from Toowoomba in Queensland‘s Darling Downs were researching financial institutions for the best deposit rate in invest their $146,000 savings into. 

They received a phone call from a man with a British accent claiming to be from a well-known Australian bank offering a four per cent rate for six months.

After speaking to the man’s colleague a few days later and receiving paperwork with the bank’s masthead, Mr Jacobsen transferred their savings to the account provided.

A retired couple were too ashamed to tell their family after being scammed of their $146,000 savings (stock image of a retired couple)

He was horrified to get a call from the Bank of Queensland’s Financial Crimes Team two days later advising he had been scammed.

The Jacobsens were so ashamed they put off telling their family for a week, but are telling their story in the hope others don’t fall victim to a similar scam.

‘I considered myself to be reasonably aware when doing business transactions and I just feel sorry for anyone else who has been caught up in this,’ Mr Jacobsen told the Toowoomba Chronicle.

‘Our working days are over, we’ve worked hard for this money, paid tax on it, it’s all self-funded and we were told we had no chance of recovering it.’

But Bank of Queensland came to their rescue and were able to reclaim the Jacobsens’ savings.

The bank managed to place the funds on hold when its financial crimes team flagged the transaction as potentially suspicious and worked with the other bank involved to return the money to the very grateful and relieved couple.

However, bank officials warned this happy ending is not usually the case for scammed victims.

‘In most cases when the money leaves your account it can be very difficult to recover and it’s very common for scammers to transfer funds offshore into crypto currency, which makes it virtually impossible to recover those funds,’ BOQ customer advocate Ben Griffin said.

He said the Jacobsens fell victim to a very professional and polished investment scam and hoped their story would make others more vigilant.

Bank of Queensland customer advocate Ben Griffin said the scammed couple were one of the rare lucky ones to get their money back

Bank of Queensland customer advocate Ben Griffin said the scammed couple were one of the rare lucky ones to get their money back

The story prompted BOQ to issue a nationwide warning to customers about the rise in imposter bond investment offers from scammers claiming ‘to be selling term deposits of 3.75-6.25 per cent with an investor deadline of 30th January 2023’.

‘The imposter reportedly initiates and maintains contact with interested parties, sometimes over an extended period of time,’ the bank warned.

‘During this time they may provide application instructions, maturity dates, investment thresholds, and other specific details surrounding possible investment options.’

Signs to look out for include unrealistically high returns or bonds which seem ‘too good to be true’ and consistent pressure to invest due to the ‘risk of missing out’.

Other red flags are professional-looking forms or prospectuses with ‘lookalike’ email addresses or non-genuine phone numbers, unusual requests for personal information, and being asked to pay funds directly into a bank account.

Bank of Queensland has issued a warning customers to be vigilant of similar scams

Bank of Queensland has issued a warning customers to be vigilant of similar scams

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission advised to never transfer money to an account owned by people you don’t know, or give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone, unless you got the number from a trusted source

‘Never respond to emails or phone calls from someone claiming to be your bank and asking for account details,’ the ACCC website states.

‘Genuine banks or financial institutions never do this. This is what scammers do to steal your identity and your money.’

If you get an email claiming to be from the bank asking for your account details, immediately delete the email without clicking on any links that could activate malicious software designed to steal personal details, and report the email to your bank.

If you get a call, ask for their name and number and say you’ll call back later and Immediately contact your bank using the official telephone number.

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