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Attentive bank employee save elderly woman from costly scam

18 year veteran bank teller sensed something was off and asked all the right questions.

Attentive bank employee save elderly woman from costly scam
Cover Image Source: YouTube | 9News

Banking operations can often be complex, particularly for older adults. This is why the personalized support offered by bank employees, like Mariana Karbowski of Westpac’s Liverpool branch, can prove invaluable. Employees at Westpac are trained to ask questions in case they feel someone is getting involved with strange transactions. Because of this training, Mariana, a seasoned banker of 18 years, was paying attention when she recently assisted a 70-year-old woman. The woman, as reported by 9News, said that she intended to cancel her home insurance. Initially, she claimed she needed to sell her home because her son required financial aid, however, Mariana sensed inconsistencies in the woman’s story and decided to probe further.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pavel Danilyuk
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pavel Danilyuk


Karbowski invited her into the office and that's where the woman revealed the actual reason. She told the bank teller that she needed to send money to her boyfriend who was in a prison overseas. “My next question was, please tell me the last time he took you out for a coffee, and she said, ‘Actually, never, we met online,'” Karbowski said. The banker found it suspicious so she ran a reverse search on Google using the images that the man had sent the woman. They found the same picture with different names. The 70-year-old and the banker conclude that the man in question was a scammer.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | George Milton
Representative Image Source: Pexels | George Milton

TIncidents like this led the bank to create a new security feature using artificial intelligence. The feature, called "Safer Pay", is for customers to identify high-risk transactions and stop them from transferring money to scam accounts.

Ben Young, Head of Fraud, Westpac said, "This is a real digital conversation, it is the sort of questions that you might ask a loved one if they said I'm to send $50,000 to a loved one far corner of the world."

However, for Karbowski, helping customers means a lot more as her father lost everything to a scam. "We do care and we care when we see the red flags," she shared. 

In another similar incident, a postal employee in Scotland intervened to help an older person from falling prey to a scam. The scammer contacted the woman and told her that they were from her bank and it was regarding an "unusual activity on her account." The person suggested she withdraw all the money and send it to an address provided by them so they could deposit it into a new bank account. When the woman visited the Paisley Post Office, an employee saw that the woman was troubled. Being a regular visitor, Najma went ahead and asked the woman what happened so she narrated the whole incident. The employee quickly knew that it was a scam so she asked the old woman to inquire at her bank. While the woman was checking with her bank, the scammer called again and this time Najma picked up the call and the person quickly cut the call. However, the bank also confirmed that no such call had even been made by them.


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