Chelsea Paton was horrified to discover that her entire month’s salary had been drained from her bank account in 25 transactions worth just under $200 each to a Sydney brothel.
Always paying on the 10th of the month, she initially thought she had not been paid or was 24 hours late getting into her account, but alarm bells rang the next day when she received a text from National Australia Bank (NAB) that her card had been blocked.
The Gold Coast venue took a further look at its transaction history in November last year and was horrified to discover a series of debits worth $193.14 each spent at the Pink Lady Private Hotel, which it describes as “the most Popular Sydney” on their website.
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She immediately suspected that she had been scammed and called NAB.
“It was all really a hassle – you were on hold for so long it was almost two hours and I finally got through,” he told news.com.au.
“(Customer service) was really lovely and told me I can see you tried to put your card in a Samsung phone on November 4th and then on November 10th at 4:07am they did your first transaction and it turned out to be transactions every two or three minutes apart.
“They kept doing all the transactions until there was no money left, so that was my total payment for the month.”
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Later, the 36-year-old realized she had received a text message alerting her to the fact that a Samsung phone had been added to her card on November 4, but she dismissed it as a scam, because she had set up two-factor authentication. and she had not authorized a new device.
You have no idea how your card details were obtained and all you can think of is that your card was stolen at an ATM or the details were stolen from online purchases.
The business development manager was left “frustrated” and disappointed by NAB’s fraud investigation, which found that “no NAB error occurred in the process or platform that contributed to the loss,” a decision she said had to be made. chase the bank
The investigation also found that “there was no opportunity where NAB could have intervened to prevent her loss” in an email sent to Ms Paton and seen by news.com.au.
Ms Paton said she was “shocked” the bank didn’t return the nearly $5000 she lost, particularly since it was “so obvious” it wasn’t her.
“You could see all my transactions for 15 years. The bank knows all the things I am doing and buying,” she added.
“I looked up the transactions and the Pink Lady is in Drummoyne, it’s a brothel in Sydney, and I live on the Gold Coast. Why would I be in a brothel at 4:07 am? It’s laughable.
“I feel pretty bad when I think about it and talk about it. I get that really anxious feeling in your tummy. I have lost that money now, it was stolen and no one is helping. I feel like no one has helped.”
She is still confused as to how her details were obtained.
“I actually tried to put my card in my partner’s phone and he immediately sends a text to say this is the authorization code. I wonder if the scammer called the bank posing as me,” she said.
Ms Paton added that the loss of a full month’s salary meant she had to rely on her savings and her partner for help, but said that five years ago she would have been in a terrible position and forced to take out a loan from the bank. or borrow money. of friends.
“At a time when everything is more expensive in the world, not only could I not increase my savings, but I had to use them to live. There is also the idea that I worked so hard for a month and whoever it was took everything from me,” she said.
He added that he had worked with NAB for 15 years, but no longer trusted the organization.
“I am very disappointed and I don’t feel important to them. I’m nobody, but that kind of money means nothing to them…I’m definitely going to change banks,” she said.
“Honestly, I don’t feel safe; Every time I use my bank, I worry.
“I am constantly checking my account, I got my payment again and now I feel anxious about it all the time and I am still struggling a bit after Christmas looking at my savings, it is not changing and it is a time in my life where we want to get a house” .
NAB executive, group investigations and fraud, Chris Sheehan, said he could not comment on an individual case, but that the bank conducts extensive investigations to understand each situation and how a scam has occurred.
“Once an investigation is complete, we provide a full response to the client. Clients always have the option of referring their case to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) if they wish to do so,” he said.
“Scammers are sophisticated and look for any way to obtain personal information, passwords and authentication details. This is a society-wide problem and we all have a role to play in taking action, driving education and raising awareness so we can prevent more cases.
“When someone reaches out, no matter where they say they are calling or texting from, we encourage everyone to take their time and never feel pressured to click a link, pay something right away, transfer their funds to another account or provide personal information or bank information.”
Ms Paton said she had filed a complaint with the AFCA but still feels “angry”.
“It is definitely an invasion of privacy. Seriously, I just want to put my money on a mattress right now,” he said.
“I feel really upset, it can affect your mental health, it’s not just about being able to pay the bills, it’s ongoing.”
Mr. Sheehan added that NAB had seen a significant increase in scams in recent years and knew that the results can be devastating to those they impact, both emotionally and financially.
“In addition to the investment we make in our own systems to help detect scams and fraud, we also know that education is critical to helping people avoid scammers,” he said.
“When someone is the victim of a scam, we do everything possible to recover the funds for the client, however, once the funds have left the account, it is extremely difficult to recover them due to the sophistication and speed with which the criminals move the stolen funds. .”
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