Hope fades for Tinder swindle victim as bank says it can’t claw back $540k she lost | #socialmedia


A woman who lost more than half a million dollars in a Tinder scam has seen her hopes of getting the money back fade even further after being told by her bank she is liable for the loss.

Stuff previously revealed three women, Joanne, Donna, and Samantha – not their real names to protect their identities – collectively lost more than $2 million to men they met through dating app Tinder in near identical cons.

The elaborate scams, believed to be run by organised criminal groups overseas, involved fake news videos, a fake bank site and dozens of emails and daily phone calls.

Joanne lost $540k to a man whose name was given as Dale Plumides, who was using photos of a Dallas real estate agent for the Tinder profile.

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This week Joanne received an email from Westpac’s financial crime team informing her they had been unable to recover any of her money.

“Our findings did not show any evidence to suggest that the bank’s security relating to your online banking has been breached, nor was there a case of payment system fraud or failure that would qualify for reimbursement under Westpac’s general terms and conditions.

Dallas real estate agent Mark Cain's photos were used as part of an elaborate Tinder swindle scam.

Supplied

Dallas real estate agent Mark Cain’s photos were used as part of an elaborate Tinder swindle scam.

“While we sympathise with your situation, given that the bank believes these transactions are authorised, unfortunately you are liable for the loss.

“I understand that this must be very hard for you not only financially but emotionally, and I’m sorry there isn’t more that we are able to do for you.”

The staff member recommended that Joanne continue to follow up with the police regarding her case, as they may be able to seek reparation through the courts.

Westpac also loaded a warning onto her bank profile in case fraudsters attempted to use personal information to access her accounts via its contact centre.

Joanne also received an update from police about their investigation.

An officer from the local investigation support unit said the file had been assigned to an investigator for “a bit of further digging” into the Kiwibank account to which her money was transferred.

STUFF

A woman who lost $1 million to a Tinder swindler recorded this conversation.

“From my experience, the circumstances in your report are consistent with romance scams that originate overseas.

“The NZ bank account, at the moment, is the only line of inquiry that we have in NZ as we do not have the legal ability or jurisdiction to investigate overseas bank accounts or persons of interest.”

The officer said he had dealt with several similar romance scams, and there were usually only two main outcomes.

The New Zealand bank account either belonged to someone who knowingly or recklessly received Joanne’s money and transferred it overseas, and who could be charged with money laundering, or the owner of the bank account was the victim of a similar romance scam.

“The scammers can have several scams running at the same time, and convinces [the victim] either that the money (or a small part of it) is for them to use, and then use their bank account to transfer money to the scammer.

“If this is the case, there is no criminal offence committed by this bank account owner, and this will likely end the investigation.”

Joanne said on Sunday she was “beyond disappointed” at the “lack of assistance” from both parties.

“I still have no idea whose account it is and where my money went from there.”

Three women have lost more than $2m combined in a Tinder swindle con.

Getty/Thomas Trutschel/Photothek

Three women have lost more than $2m combined in a Tinder swindle con.

More than a month after she was told she had been scammed, Joanne said she’s “not coping”, and is “just getting by each day”.

“I am still stressed out about how easy it is in New Zealand to rip people off and get away with it without anyone being caught and held responsible.”

Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee recently unanimously agreed to open a briefing into the responsibility of banks in identifying the “hallmarks” of scams.

Private investigator John Borland, who is looking into Joanne’s case, said an inquiry “absolutely has to happen”.

“Overall, banks do a good job in certain areas of fraud, but we are looking at a dating scam pandemic stretching years and a review needs to be done to see whether banks are doing enough for their customers.”

Police are urging people to be wary of any online approaches where something might seem amiss, and advise being wary of the following, among other things:

  • People who always have excuses about why they can’t meet you in person or even video call.

  • Those who are often in a hard-to-reach place, such as those working on oil rigs, in the military, or overseas.

  • People who always have a sob story, such as a child or relative being sick, and there always being a degree of urgency.

Advice for those looking for love online includes:

  • Be careful what you post and make public on the internet. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.

  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.

  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.

  • Note if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.

Anyone who believes they are the victim of a scam can contact police and report the matter via 105, or visit consumerprotection.govt.nz/general-help/scamwatch for more information on how to protect themselves, family and friends from being scammed.



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