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27 May, 2024
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Bank refunds $500,000 to elderly customer

Elderly depositor reclaims $500,000 in surprise twist

Source: Good News Network

From Australia comes a story of corporate responsibility in the face of personal tragedy as an elderly national bank depositor had nearly AUD$500,000 returned to him out of the bank’s own pockets.

He had been tricked by scammers into revealing his banking information, which an inquest at ANZ bank found was something they should have been able to detect and stop before the scammers pilfered every last cent of the depositor’s life savings.

78-year-old Alex Shaw was recently diagnosed with dementia, something that wasn’t a big surprise to his son Victor. The news came just a few days after he had gone in with Alex to their local branch of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and were told that Alex had been the victim of a scam, and that the roughly AUD$460,000 amassed throughout his working life had been taken.

Victor understood it was generally known that scam victims are rarely reimbursed by banks who have a responsibility to protect depositors against fraudulent withdrawals. If the Shaws were to have any hope of recovering the money, they would have to understand whether or not the withdrawals were something that the bank should have prevented.

“Day to day, he’s kind of fine,” Victor told ABC News AU about his father’s dementia. “But that higher-level paperwork kind-of-stuff [like] managing finances… was just really beyond him. Getting the straight narrative as to what had happened… I couldn’t really work it out.”

In a stroke of fortune, Alex had been taking meticulous notes while in conversation with the scammers. He recorded the process almost to a tee, noting that the scammers asked him to buy some Apple store gift cards and send the serial numbers to a phone number in Thailand, or click on some links that were supposed to offer thousands in grant money.

Throughout Alex’ notes, there were references to something called “AnyDesk,” which Victor later learned was a program that allowed scammers to remotely access devices. From that moment on Alex was compromised, and several lump sums of between $10k and $25k were lifted from his account.

ANZ’s fraud detection system blocked the account following these transfers which went to an unknown offshore bank account. However the scammers managed to coach Alex into getting his account reactivated, at which point the rest of his money was taken.

Submitting a complaint, Victor didn’t have much hope, and the representatives from ANZ explained that it’s usually impossible to get much money back in these circumstances.

Then, three months after his father had lost everything, Victor got a response in the mail.

“Following our review of this matter… ANZ recognizes that it could have done more to support Mr. Shaw given his history with scams,” the bank stated. “Considering Mr. Shaw’s vulnerability and the impact the scam has had on him, we will reimburse the scam transactions totaling $460,174.04.”

Victor told ABC that not a single person he knows, and as an Anglican church rector he has quite the Rolodex, has ever heard of such a thing happening.

Bank representatives speaking with ABC used the opportunity to encourage the children or relatives of those with dementia or cognitive decline to take steps to ensure greater security around financial management. Victor set up power of attorney over the account, for example, but other measures can be taken.

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