Scammers have convincing lines

AN ELDERLY South Tamworth man targeted in a bank scam has issued a warning to residents to beware of hoax phone callers.

JUST HANG UP: South Tamworth pensioner Walter Scott was one of a number of local seniors targeted in a bank scam recently. Photo: Barry Smith 290514BSB03

JUST HANG UP: South Tamworth pensioner Walter Scott was one of a number of local seniors targeted in a bank scam recently. Photo: Barry Smith 290514BSB03

Walter Scott, 84, received a call this month from a man purporting to be from the Commonwealth Bank, where Mr Scott is a customer.

The caller claimed Mr Scott had more than $7000 in a holding account after he was supposedly overcharged for a number of years on bank fees.

The only way to unlock the money, he was told, was to pay a $199 “release fee” by wire transfer at his local post office.

“They weren’t going to catch me out, I was a bit too quick on the uptake,” Mr Scott said.

“But he did sound convincing. He had an Australian accent and had identified my bank.”

The caller even asked Mr Scott if he could transfer the release fee the same day.

After the call ended, he immediately notified the Commonwealth Bank and the Department of Fair Trading.

“Unfortunately, it’s the elderly people who could be most susceptible,” Mr Scott said.

Tamworth’s Fair Trading Centre has received a spate of calls from worried seniors about the scam locally.

“Locals are reporting receiving calls from men and women with foreign accents who have people’s personal information, including their name, address, birth date and even banking records,” NSW Fair Trading commissioner Rob Stowe said. 

“In some cases consumers have reported receiving earlier phone calls, allegedly from their bank or financial institution, claiming to be conducting a survey and checking personal and banking information.

“This is often how scammers procure detailed personal information so that the follow-up scam call to steal your money can seem credible. 

“Once they have a consumer on the hook believing they are dealing with a legitimate institution, they then request an administration fee to facilitate the transfer of the so-called windfall. 

“It is a sophisticated technique and usually involves sending the person to the local post office to  transfer money via Western Union to an offshore account.”

He encouraged anyone who received a scam call to report it to Fair Trading on 13 32 20.

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