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NAB customer falls for spoof scam and loses over $100,000 to scammers impersonating bank staff

A man has revealed how he lost a six-figure amount after scammers impersonated his bank and gained control of his account.

Tim Watkins, who banks with NAB, received a text message on March 18 informing him that $800 of his own money had been spent on Amazon gift cards.

The text appeared to come from the same number that NAB had been using to send him messages since January last year.

Mr Watkins said he had no reason to believe it was suspicious and thought that someone had actually used his account to purchase the gift cards. 

His exchange with the scammers afterwards led him to lose six-figures in a matter of minutes prompting him to issue a dire warning to Aussies.

He said he had overlooked one important sign that could have prevented him from handing over so much money. 

Tim Watkins, who banks with NAB, received a text message on March 18 informing him that $800 of his own money had been spent on Amazon gift cards 

‘Do not respond to a text if you’re at all doubtful, the bank will follow up with you if it is really them,’ Mr Watkins told Daily Mail Australia.

Mr Watkins had called the number provided in the text message that was sent by the scammers.

They asked him to log in to his bank account and send them the one-time code that is normally sent by a bank to a customer to verify who they are.

Mr Watkins ended up providing 10 one-time codes to the scammers after they claimed the number he had given them was wrong or too much time had elapsed.

The scammers then used each code to authorise a transaction in his name and withdrew more than $100,000 from his personal and business accounts in 10 minutes.

‘On returning home I logged into NAB online to find out that a significant six figure sum had been taken, wiping out my business and personal bank accounts,’ Mr Watkins said. 

Impersonating a business or government body is known as a spoof scam. 

It is usually performed by scammers who are able to gain access to a company’s phone number and use it to deceive customers. 

‘I immediately reported this to NAB Fraud who said they would contact the main recipient bank of nine of the transactions (at) UBank … a division of NAB,’ Mr Watkins said.

The tenth transaction had landed in an account with Bendigo Bank. 

‘As I had no money in my personal or business accounts and because of the exceptional circumstances and urgent requirements to honour payments, I asked about getting an immediate credit facility set up but this was declined by NAB,’ Mr Watkins said.

Mr Watkins claims NAB was ‘consistently unhelpful and not at all sympathetic’ over the next few weeks.

‘I was also surprised that they did not seem to have any protocol in place to deal with the cyber scam nor to help me in what was a very traumatic time,’ he said.

Mr Watkins filed a complaint with the The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) and later the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

He was then contacted by NAB and informed the bank was ‘not liable for the stolen funds’ as the transfers were made from Mr Watkin’s regular device.

‘As a “gesture of goodwill” NAB were prepared to offer me $10,000 in full and final resolution of your dispute,’ Mr Watkins said.

‘The offer was available until April 26, but if I continued to dispute through AFCA then the offer would be withdrawn.’

Mr Watkins claims $29,213.09 was credited to his business account under the description, ‘Recovery of Scam Funds,. 

Mr Watkins claims NAB were 'consistently unhelpful' throughout the ordeal, and offered him $10,000 out of 'goodwill' that was rescinded when he filed a complaint with AFCA (stock image)

Mr Watkins claims NAB were ‘consistently unhelpful’ throughout the ordeal, and offered him $10,000 out of ‘goodwill’ that was rescinded when he filed a complaint with AFCA (stock image)

‘NAB Fraud have not provided any information about the recovery despite numerous calls and emails,’ he said.

‘NAB have to accept a degree of liability and responsibility and I believe there is misconduct and a duty of care from them and protecting my money.’

‘How is it that a substantial amount of money can be transferred in 10 transactions over 10 minutes from my bank accounts to other accounts and banks that I have never dealt with in the past?

‘Surely there should be red flags and algorithms in place to check, for example a call back from NAB before transferring the money.

Mr Watkins still receives text messages from the once-trusted NAB phone number to this day.

Chris Sheehan, NAB Executive for Group Investigations and Fraud, said: ‘Unfortunately, once the funds have left an account and are sent to another bank, it is extremely hard for us to retrieve them. These criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and operate with speed to move stolen funds.’

‘NAB has a comprehensive, bank wide strategy including around 60 initiatives that are either completed or underway to combat fraud and scams.’

‘While we can’t comment on individual cases, we’ve seen a significant increase in scams in recent years,’ he said.

‘We know the results can be devastating on the people they impact, both emotionally and financially,’ Mr Sheeran said.

‘This is a scam epidemic and it requires collaboration across Government, banking, telecommunications, online and social media industries, consumer groups and regulators in a Team Australia approach to address the problem.

‘When a customer receives a text message or call impersonating NAB, it means a criminal has ‘spoofed’ our number and is impersonating us. NAB’s systems have not been breached in any way.

‘NAB will never ask a customer to confirm, update or disclose personal or banking information via a link in a text message or email. People need to know that their bank will never ask them to transfer money to another account to keep it safe.’

NAB customer falls for spoof scam and loses over 0,000 to scammers impersonating bank staff

Scammers are able to use sophisticated software that masks their phone number as a phone contact in spoof scams (pictured) and often use trusted names such as banks

In February, NAB announced they were working with telecommunication providers to help curb the amount of ‘spoof’ scams that impersonate the bank.

‘Scams impersonating NAB and other recognised brands have continued to rise, and it’s clear we need more collaboration across business sectors to stop this occurring,’ Chris Sheehan, NAB Executive for Group Investigations and Fraud, said.

Mr Sheeran said the bank had received a 38 per cent uptick in scam reports last year.

They have seen a drop of 50 per cent in scam reports since December when working with providers to block known scam numbers, leading to a 70 per cent reduction in losses for customers.

‘There is no silver bullet to stopping scams. Scammers target individuals and essentially con us into handing over the keys to our accounts and money,’ Mr Sheeran said.

Australians lost a record $3.1billion to scams over 2022, an average of $20,000 per person.