Don’t go breakin’ my heart
A case study of romance scams in action
In 2017, the ANZ scams unit was referred a payment which was headed to Turkey for investigation.
It was discovered the customer had sent close to $A200,000 via international transfer over an extended period. The team contacted ‘Evan’, who advised his partner, ‘Pamela’, owed money overseas and had got herself into some trouble.
The unit discovered Pamela was based overseas and Evan had been speaking to her for more than a year but had never met her in person. The online conversations had been normal until Pamela began discussing issues about her employment.
Pamela had allegedly got herself in a situation with some people she had borrowed money from. They had taken her identification documentation and were holding it for ransom. Unless she was able to get her identification returned, she wouldn’t be able to fly to Australia to be with Evan. Evan made some initial payments at Pamela’s request, who asked for more and more money to be sent.
Eventually, Pamela claimed to have recovered her documentation and now needed money to fly to Australia to be with the customer.
When the unit advised Evan they believed he had been caught up in a romance scam and would be stopping the latest payment, he refused to believe them or allow them to stop and recall the payment as he was convinced she was moving to be with him.
Approximately two weeks later, Evan contacted the team very distressed. He had been to the airport on multiple occasions to collect Pamela, who’d provided flight numbers, but on each occasion she hadn’t turned up. The team spent time with Evan providing support but unfortunately only a small amount of funds were able to be recovered on his behalf.