Aussie woman nearly loses life savings in elaborate text scam

A woman has revealed the scary moment her and her partner's life savings were almost wiped out in seconds, thanks to an elaborate scam.

Carly Portch, 34, shared the tense experience with Yahoo News Australia, saying she is still feeling "very nervous".

"I was on the phone with my husband (Russell) when he received a text message from what he thought to be our bank, ING," the Perth local said. "It said there was a new mobile device login on a specific date. It said, 'if this is not you, review the account history' and it had a link."

Photo of perth couple and photo of text message woman received that was a scam.
Perth local and breakfast host Carly Portch has shared how her and her husband had a very close call with a scam. Source: Supplied/TikTok

The Hit WA breakfast host said the most inventive part of the scam was that the message appeared under a text thread with all the other messages from ING, so "there was absolutely no reason to question it".

"We made the decision to click the link, which sounds very silly but we're both tech savvy and we thought it's from our bank and they're trying to contact us."

Though once Russell received a message from his private email saying a Samsung device had been approved to access their accounts, "alarm bells started ringing".

Quick thinking saved the couple

As soon as he got the email, they called ING who luckily took action straight away, however it was a very close call.

"He called our bank straight away and thank god he did because they froze our accounts straight away," Ms Portch said. "Then he went into our banking and noticed that they (scammers) had moved around sums of money — we had money we put in an account to save for a house and that had been moved into our everyday spending account."

"So he called the bank back because he was worried that they were still in our account and the bank looked through the time stamps and essentially said we managed to freeze it just in time before they were able to transfer the money out of the account."

The nail-bitingly close encounter had Ms Portch counting her stars but also realising the situation could've very easily gone south.

Photo of Perth couple and their dog in Christmas attire.
The Perth couple have been busy saving for a home for themselves and their dog, Gabby, when the disaster struck. Source: Supplied

"ING acted so swiftly on it and I think if we had a long wait time and they didn't act quickly on it, we would've lost our money — our whole home loan deposit that we've spent a couple of years saving for," Ms Portch said.

"We're finally so close to being able to buy a house, and thats what scared us the most, we have been doing everything possible, sacrificing lately, and that's where we felt really vulnerable — that in a second our dream of owning a house could've disappeared."

Woman urges people to look out for scam

While she said it's "100% on (them)" for clicking the link, Ms Portch said the scam was very believable and could happen to anyone "when something looks like it comes from a legitimate source from your bank".

"From what people are saying online, the scammers may have managed to mimic themselves as the bank to us and it wasn't some random link, it was literally from the text thread from our bank, so thats what got us," she said.

"I thought I was living my life smartly online and I was able to have this happen, so now, what are the next steps? And how do we really up our security online so this doesn't happen?

"The bank has said they've added extra security questions to our account and we've had things change, but personally I still feel very nervous."

Without receiving any further "reassurance" from ING she said she's "nervous to even sign in to (her) online banking".

"We need these organisations to be more transparent when a breach is made and given clear directions for what to do next," she said.

Aussies are being warned about an uptick in sophisticated scams over the holiday period. Source: Getty (file)
Aussies are being warned about an uptick in sophisticated scams over the holiday period. Source: Getty (file)

ING Australia responds to scam incident

Yahoo News Australia reached out to ING Australia for comment, who detailed what affected customers should do.

“At ING we are always focused on keeping the savings and data of customers safe. Fraud and scams are increasingly an industry wide issue that we take very seriously," a spokeswoman said. "To help customers avoid fraud and being scammed we apply advanced account security measures and regularly educate our customers and social media followers.

"We encourage customers to never share their passwords or click on links asking them to login to their online banking, even if it looks like the link is from ING. We regularly update our security page with information about: common scams (including this one), how ING protects customers and how they can protect themselves."

"We also have a dedicated scams hotline for customers to call if they believe they’ve been scammed, 1800 052 743.”

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