Woman Loses $33,000 to Bank Scam—Here Are the Red Flags She Missed
She fell for a very legitimate-looking texting scheme.
Today's scams are rampant and sophisticated, making it that much more difficult to know when you're dealing with a bad actor. Fraudsters tend to prey on your sense of urgency, using ploys that get you to act fast as opposed to double-checking the information you're given or taking a moment to note red flags. Suni Wan, an HSBC customer, ended up as a target of one of these fear-inducing bank scams, missing warning signs that cost her her life savings, the New York Post reported.
Wan, who is based in Sydney, Australia, said that she received a text message she thought was from her bank, HSBC. (The international bank is one of the largest in the world, with locations in 62 countries and territories, including the U.S., per HSBC's website.)
Speaking with Australian news program A Current Affair, Wan said that she received a text in the same thread where messages from HBSC typically come through. The message informed her that a new device logged into her account and asked her to call the number in the text if it wasn't her. Wan followed instructions and dialed the number.
"He goes there's been another device that's been logged in, an S8, which is a Samsung S8 phone. I coincidently did lose an S8 phone a few years ago," Wan said, which made her worry someone had her old phone and had accessed her banking. Wan then gave the person on the phone her name, address, and date of birth for "verification," she told A Current Affair.
She was sent a one-time passcode to her phone, which she provided to the person on the other end of the line. After putting her on an extended hold, the person on the phone started to ask Wan about cryptocurrency, which is when alarm bells went off in her head.
"It finally clicked to me, why would HSBC be concerned about my Coinspot, they wouldn't pass my details to a representative they would tell me to call Coinspot directly," she said.
Wan hung up and called HSBC (presumably on its official line) and asked the bank to freeze her account, but the damage had already been done. She was informed the next day that $49,000 Australian Dollars (AUD), which converts to roughly $33,127 USD, was stolen from her bank account.
In a statement provided to A Current Affair, HSBC said that they couldn't discuss Wan's specific situation due to confidentiality concerns. At the same time, the bank stressed its commitment to customer security.
"The industry has seen an increase in fraudsters using 'text spoofing' to deliberately falsify the telephone number to appear as a genuine bank text message. Scam text messages can even appear in the same message chain as real messages from the organisation, making them even harder to spot," the company said.
According to A Current Affair, the scammer Wan encountered spoofed the HSBC number, which is how the fraudulent message populated in the thread with legitimate HSBC texts.
While the situation occurred in Australia, many of the same bank scam red flags are prevalent here in the U.S. As HSBC told A Current Affair, the bank "will never" ask customers to provide PINs, passwords, or verification codes over the phone or in response to an email or text. So, be extra cautious if you're asked for those details over the phone.
"Bank customers need to be vigilant about the risk of scams and are reminded to never give out bank codes or passwords," the bank said.
Wan, however, made a crucial mistake before she even provided his information—she called the number in the text. She did not mention if the number she dialed was different from other HSBC numbers she'd called before.
"The hardest thing for me is to stop blaming myself, like I keep blaming myself, maybe I should have noticed it earlier," Wan said.
Best Life reached out to HSBC for more information, and will update the story with its response.
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