Aussie uni student can only watch scammers drain her $3000 bank account
Australian university student Sarah Towers says she was scammed out of more than $3,000 by someone with remote access to her cell phone.
She called Commonwealth Bank and waited on hold as her account was empty – now they tell her the transaction was “authorized”.
Watch the video to learn more about how this Australian student thinks she’s been hacked.
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The Australian minimum-wage university student was studying for a math test when she noticed her savings and the money she had set aside for accounts flowed out of her performance.
The string of suspicious transactions from London ranged from $200 to $900 on May 10.
She believes the scammer had remote access to her text messages and NetBank code.
“They managed to disable my NetBank notifications, allowing them to get a NetCode without me ever knowing,” Towers said on TikTok.
Once in the CommBank app, which allows users to register up to five devices at once, the scammer could add their phone so that they could make “authorized transactions”.
Despite this feature, only one user can use the app at a time, so once he became aware of the scam, it was a back-and-forth battle between Towers and the hacker to use the app.
An Australian uni student believes her phone was used remotely, with the scammer turning off her notifications before draining her account with a private NetCode. Credit: TikTok
She was finally able to access and change her PIN, but it was too late, and shortly after, she was rebooted from the account after too many incorrect PINs from the hacker.
The first report informing Towers of the breach was after business hours, so Towers had to call the bank’s phone line for help and had no choice of where she lived to visit a branch.
“I had to wait until Monday to go to a branch to help me because they couldn’t help over the phone,” she said.
“The branch I go to is super nice; I’m just so disappointed with their safety and decision,” she wrote.
CommBank’s initial report stated that $204.32 had been debited from Towers’ account by someone in London, even though Towers had never left the country.
“I didn’t understand how my bank would allow that,” Towers said.
Towers immediately called the number provided to report suspicious activity, but she was put on hold for an hour and a half, “waiting for their response so I could close my account.”
She only had $200 in her account by the time her account was closed.
Disputing the outcome
Her bank did not review Towers’ transaction dispute claim until three weeks later, but with bad news for the disadvantaged college student.
The bank stated Towers claimed that because she was aware of the money leaving her account, it was “authorized,” and she would not receive any compensation.
“As you can expect, that’s probably the worst possible outcome for me,” Towers said.
Towers have filed a complaint with the Australian Cyber Security Centre, but its website states that not all claims are under investigation by the agency.
She also filed a complaint about the outcome with CommBank, which offers customers a single opportunity to reopen the case with a case manager.
The Towers case manager has told her they will escalate the case.
“Did they see my TikTok?” she wrote in response.
A Commonwealth Bank spokesman told 7NEWS.com.au: “We are always very concerned when we are informed of fraud and scams affecting customers and the wider community.”
“We assess fraud and scams on a case-by-case basis, but it is widely recognized that scams are becoming more sophisticated, which has led to increased investment across the industry.”