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West Australian Banking Association

A Bunbury pensioner has reported to Consumer Protection losing just over $44,000 in a scam where a cold caller pretended to be working for the West Australian Banking Association and offered a refund of thousands of dollars of overcharged bank fees.

The elderly man says he trusted the caller because they said the West Australian Banking Association was part of the Government.

The caller claimed there was $6,600 waiting for the consumer to access if he just paid lawyer and processing fees.

The scammer got the pensioner to send money via Western Union wire transfer service. Up until then the elderly man had never used Western Union and did not realise that it is the preferred payment method of scammers as it lacks traceability.  Sadly once the money has been picked up there is no way to get it back.

After sending some payments of hundreds of dollars, the amounts crept up to more than $2,000 per transaction.

By this stage the scammer had groomed the victim, using tried and tested communication techniques to convince the man that he would get his bank fees and his money back.

When the man wanted to back out the scammer threatened him with harm and made the man feel guilty about the process being so heavily underway and time wasted on it so far.

The scammer claimed to have found extra money owing to the man – possibly another $10,000 in overcharged bank fees.

The man was scared and thought he would get a payout at the end and over a period of about 3 and a half weeks he sent $44,320.

According to the victim, the scam caller had an Indian-sounding accent but we don’t know whereabouts overseas that the organised criminal is based.

The phone number given looks like it’s in the Eastern states but the scammers use a re-routing system which makes overseas numbers appear with Australian pre-fixes.

WA Police Major Fraud Squad have also been informed.  

WA ScamNet has been issuing warnings since 2010 about variations of the Reclaim bank fees phone scam.

Between November 2012 and January 2013 Consumer Protection received 11 scam enquiries from people who’d been contacted by callers claiming to be from the Australian Banking Association or Australian Banking Organisation.

WA ScamNet advice:

  • NEVER wire transfer money to someone unless you know and trust the person e.g. a direct relative like a grandchild.
  • No Government agencies ever take payment via wire transfer e.g. Western Union or EziPay, or an electronic voucher payment system like Ukash
  • Government agencies or legitimate official organisations will never call you out of the blue to offer you money and ask for payment first for you to access the funds.
  • If a total stranger ever requests money (a cold caller or someone you met online) never send it…it will be a fraud.
  • Victims of scams can call the Consumer Protection advice line on 1300 30 40 54 or report the matter to WA Police.
  • Don’t forget you can use the WA ScamNet website to research whether something suspicious is a scam.

The Australian Bankers Association have also issues two previous media releases about this scam:

First published 6th Feb 2013