An elderly couple who lost a quarter of a million dollars in a sophisticated online scam have slammed Bendigo Bank for failing to block the suspicious transactions.
Edward, 86, and Joan Adams, 82, fell victim to a team of fake Microsoft employees who took over their computer and immediately tried to access their bank accounts.
Two of their banks, NAB and HSBC, immediately blocked the attempted withdrawals, but Bendigo Bank did not put a freeze on their account until four days later.
“It went over three days — they took out 11 withdrawals until it got to $249,000,” Ms Adams told Nine’s A Current Affair.
“They took us to the cleaners,” her husband added.
The withdrawals ranged from $10,000 to $50,000, and came from a loan account which the couple said they had not used for two years.
Want to stream your news? Flash lets you stream 25+ news channels in 1 place. New to Flash? Try 1 month free. Offer available for a limited time only >
Mr Adams said Bendigo Bank should “absolutely” have blocked the suspicious transactions because “the payees were not people we’ve ever paid before”, and “because it was an enormous amount of money that was going through”.
But the bank told the couple in a letter that “generally a bank does not have an obligation to monitor transactions on its customers’ behalf and reimburse a customer for authorised payments to a third party”.
“So that more or less says ‘go jump’,” he said.
Adding insult to injury, they say Bendigo Bank is charging them interest.
“To charge you interest on that money, that’s really kicking it in your face,” he said.
For now the couple are resigned to paying off the $249,000 that was stolen. They said they were speaking out hoping to warn others.
“They’ve got me, they’re going to get other people,” Mr Adams said.
“If you can make a quarter of a million dollars in three days, you’d say this is the best job I’ve had in my life.”
Bendigo Bank said in a statement to the program that it “takes cyber security very seriously”.
“The Bank’s security staff remain vigilant and work closely with Australian cybersecurity agencies, intelligence and technology partners to detect any malicious or abnormal behaviour,” it said.
Bendigo Bank said that it “contacted the financial institution that received the funds immediately upon learning of the fraud”.
“The receiving financial institution subsequently advised that it has not been able to recover the funds,” it said.
“As the matter is before the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, it would be inappropriate to comment further while this independent review is ongoing.”