CBA, NAB client loses $760k in ‘advanced’ Macquarie Bank term deposit scam

Melbourne’s mother had already lost her husband in a car accident just before Christmas. Then she became the target of “bad” scammers.

Jacomi Du Preez, mother of two from Melbourne, didn’t think her happiness could get any worse after her husband’s tragic death in a car accident just weeks before Christmas.

The 48-year-old widow and her two teenage children were still mourning their beloved husband and father Zak when they suffered another devastating blow earlier this week.

On Monday, a scammer stole the total amount of Zak’s life insurance policy – a whopping $760,000.

Zak ran his own business and had a hefty life insurance policy to support his family in the event of his death.

Ms. Du Preez said she wanted to be a responsible “custodian” of the money and not take any risks, so she was looking for a very secure term account to deposit the money in – a sentiment she says is “ironic” in hindsight. .

Her financial planner said Macquarie Bank had better interest rates than most, so she put them in Google.

Unfortunately, unknown to her, she clicked on a fake website that skillfully posed as Macquarie Bank. Over several days, they convinced her to transfer the full amount of cash.

Through tears, Ms. Du Preez told news.com.au, “These people are bad.”

In mid-April, Ms. Du Preez stumbled upon the scam website.

With a background in finance and auditing, she couldn’t emphasize enough how legit the website seemed.

Indeed, an IT expert later told her that the scammers had used something called Amazon Cloud Frontage, which circumvented the security measures, allowing them to appear on the first page of a Google web search for “Macquarie Bank term deposit”. .

The fraudsters offered a 2.5 percent rate under the guise of Macquarie Bank, which was better than any other bank they could find, prompting her to go with them.

She filled out a form and the next day she got a call from someone claiming to be Mark Dickinson. When she looked him up online, there was indeed a Mark Dickinson who worked in the financial sector. The cybercriminal had assumed his identity.

This con man “was very slick, he had a British accent,” she recalls. “I have asked many questions, how is the interest paid, how can they give me the rate. I didn’t pick up on any of his answers that he sounded insecure.”

Another thing that gave her a false sense of security was the crooks’ patience.

He said ‘it will take a few days to open the account’. Three days later he called me back,” she explained.

From April 14 to April 25, she transferred the $760,000 she owned in increments from her Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and NAB accounts to the scammer’s account. To ensure a smooth transaction, she even informed the banks to allow the large sums of money to be processed through their systems, even if it raised red flags.

Then on Monday she said, “I had a sick feeling in my stomach, I knew I was done.”

In a panic, Ms. Du Preez called Macquarie Bank and her worst fears came true.

After notifying NAB and CBA and being told that the entire process to get her money back could take four to six weeks, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

Using her skills as an auditor, she followed the money trail and found that her money had been channeled through three instant payment systems to end up in a cryptocurrency exchange where the scammers could make it untraceable.

First the money went to Cuscal, an Australian company that describes itself as an independent provider of payment solutions.

It was then forwarded to a company called MoneyTech or Monoova, which advertises itself as a “versatile payment platform”.

Finally, the funds reached a small cryptocurrency exchange, ElBaite.

Ms Du Preez was invited to ElBaite Melbourne’s office after discussing the matter with them and convincing them to freeze the funds.

Fortunately, Elbaite’s security protocols had already detected unusual activity on that account and had blocked it.

It’s a good thing they stopped the transfer because it’s very possible that the money would have been exchanged into untraceable cryptocurrency and gone forever.

“I guarantee if they catch me, they’ll catch 90 percent of the people,” Ms. Du Preez warned. “I work in the financial industry, this was so advanced, it was a complete set up from start to finish.”

To make the situation even more heartbreaking, Ms. Du Preez had confided to the scammer about how her husband had recently died and that her investment was his life insurance policy.

Despite this, they continued with their fraud.

“Now I’m very suspicious of everyone,” she said.

The Du Preez family was moving from Perth to Melbourne late last year when disaster struck.

Zak wanted to take some tools from his company, so he decided to drive separately to their new home.

Ms Du Preez and their two children went on to settle into their new life in Melbourne. Unfortunately, Zak never arrived.

“He was on a lonely stretch of road on a ute, they don’t understand what happened,” Ms. Du Preez said in a trembling voice.

“He took off on the gravel. They don’t know how long he was there until someone discovered him.”

Banks respond

Good news, as of Friday afternoon, several of these institutions confirmed to news.com.au that the funds had been fully recovered.

NAB escalated the situation and confirmed to news.com.au that they had recovered all $140,000 Ms. Du Preez transferred from her NAB account.

“Once we were notified that Ms. Preez was the victim of an online scam, our teams worked quickly to see if the funds could be recovered,” said NAB Director of Group Investigations and Fraud, Chris Sheehan.

“We are now pleased to confirm that all funds transferred from the NAB account have been fully recovered.”

Cuscal, Monoova and ElBaite all said they had worked with Ms. Du Preez and the banks and expected the money to be recovered in full.

“We are currently in the process of returning the frozen funds and she can expect the full $760,000 to be returned to her shortly, and we are pleased to have helped a member of the community,” an Elbaite spokesperson said. .

A Commonwealth Bank spokesman told news.com.au by phone that the matter is being investigated with the utmost urgency.

“If a customer has been scammed, we will work tirelessly with the relevant parties to try and recover the remaining funds for them,” they said in a statement.

Macquarie Bank said in a statement: “We are aware of an increase in scammers trying to use our name to fraudulently request fake term deposits, and we have a series of warnings on our website and bank login pages about these scams.

“We have also reported this scam to the relevant authorities, including the Australian Federal Police.”

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