Mule scam victim gets compensation over false allegation

Common scams targeting bank customers,
Hamish was a beneficiary who did casual work. A man who owed Hamish money asked if he could transfer some money into his account. Hamish would withdraw this amount for him, minus what he was owed and an extra payment for agreeing to help. The man transferred $2,000 into Hamish’s account. Hamish withdrew $1,800 and gave it to him. A short time later, the bank contacted Hamish and told him he was the victim of a mule scam and that the $2,000 was stolen from another bank customer.
September 2015

The bank reversed the $2,000 deposit, putting Hamish into unarranged overdraft. It also revoked access to his accounts, which meant he had to go to a branch to withdraw cash. In addition, it began deducting $25 from his benefit payments to repay the $2,000.

The bank then alleged Hamish had given the man his eftpos card and PIN to withdraw the $1,800. The bank said it had images of a man withdrawing the money from the ATM Hamish said he used.

Our investigation

Hamish complained to us that this allegation was false. He had never disclosed his PIN, and thought the bank should refund the $2,000. Hamish also believed he deserved compensation for the embarrassment caused by having to visit the branch weekly to make withdrawals.

We found that the image the bank relied on was from a different ATM used at the same time Hamish was withdrawing the $1,800. This meant its claim was incorrect.

As a goodwill gesture, the bank refunded the $2,000, plus fees and interest Hamish had incurred, and offered $1,500 in compensation.


Hamish accepted the offer.

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