A hardworking great-grandmother has lost her life savings after falling victim to a cruel scam.
Marie Marshall is described by her friends and family as an “Aussie battler” who has always put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own.
She often has gone without to ensure others are cared for, but at 66-years-old she has been looking forward to a relaxing retirement.
But after receiving a simple phone call earlier this year, her life savings and dreams of the future have been tragically been stolen from her in the cruellest way.
“I received a call one afternoon from someone who claimed to be from the Commonwealth Bank fraud department,” she told news.com.au.
“He had an Indian accent, but spoke clearly in English and appeared highly educated and very patient. He was able to quote my account numbers and balances.
“He advised me that there were a number of suspicious transactions on my account, and Commonwealth believed my account had been compromised.
“In order to secure my accounts and funds, he said I’d need to open a new CBA account and transfer all my money there.”
In order to appear more legitimate, the scammer told Marie she would need to confirm her identity using an application.
Ironically, he warned that this was more secure than providing details over the phone, as this is “what scammers do”.
After downloading this app, the scammer had complete access to Marie’s phone and was able to steal all her savings – approximately $13,392 in total.
While some was able to be recovered after it was put into a Westpac bank account, the majority is still missing.
The great-grandmother was left with a mere $2.60 in her purse.
Sadly, Marie continues to lose savings, as the scammer used her credit card and the Commonwealth bank continues to charge fees to this account.
“I had no idea I’d been scammed until two days later,” she explained.
“I read a post on Facebook about someone experiencing the exact same scam. I immediately burst into tears and attempted to access my bank account, but was unable to login.
“I then drove to a nearby ATM, but my pin code didn’t work.
“I was heartbroken and highly distraught.”
Marie called her daughter Christina to explain what had happened, and the pair headed to their closest Commonwealth Bank branch to file a complaint and start an investigation.
In the meantime, Marie’s family were able to give her some cash to help with her living expenses, as she had just $2.60 in her purse and all her accounts had been locked.
“Since the scam, I’ve gone through such a hard time,” she said.
“I’ve saved for so many years and worked so hard, and now all that is gone and probably not recoverable.
“I was so embarrassed, and I felt so stupid that I fell for the scam. I’d always been so careful with money.
“I had planned to buy another car when I retired to help replace my old one.
“After this happened, I have received so many calls from unknown numbers, often 10+ a day. My Facebook account has also been hacked, and I’ve lost all my photos and contacts.”
Marie’s family have since set up a Go Fund Me page to help their mother through this difficult time, which has raised over $4,500
The great-grandmother has been a customer with Commonwealth since 2010.
After raising a complaint about what had happened, the bank informed Marie that after completing their investigation, her funds were not recoverable.
She claims that the bank is now forcing her to pay back all the money the scammer had spent, along with the fees, on her credit card, despite the fact that it has been stolen.
CBA has offered Marie approximately $2,863.37 as compensation, but stated that $1,616.61 of the $2,863.37 had to be paid back to CBA on the credit card.
“My future is going to be a week to week living situation,” she said.
“I plan to retire on the pension, and a small amount of superannuation. I don’t own a home.
“The savings the scammer stole would have been used to buy a car, as well as paying off some bills.”
The ordeal has affected Marie’s mental health and overall wellbeing, with the great-grandmother suffering from a mild depression and sadness about what occurred.
“I withdrew from my friends and was embarrassed that I had fallen to the scam,” she explained.
“I was quite teary and quiet since it occurred, and I fell into a state of mild depression, which my family monitored closely.
“I can’t believe they got me, I am so careful with the little money I have.
“I don’t feel that CBA’s response has been acceptable.”