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Bank teller saved an old woman from million-dollar scam by asking a single question

The bank teller found something odd in her client's demeanor and took her aside for a conversation, and stopped a scam from happening.
UPDATED JUN 21, 2024
Cover Image Source: YouTube/9 News Australia
Cover Image Source: YouTube/9 News Australia

Internet scams have become a major cause for concern especially when it comes to senior citizens who are lured by scammers using the promise of friendship or love. In similar fashion, a North Carolina woman's bank account was drained after she was misled into believing that her dream of a love affair with a K-pop star had come true, as reported by ABC11. Such incidents highlight the need for more support and assistance to the elderly so that they do not find themselves in such situations. Amidst the onslaught of scams, a bank teller's awareness prevented an old woman from making one of the biggest mistakes in her life in the name of love.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

Westpac Bank teller Marlena Karbowski realized that something was wrong while she was assisting a customer at the Liverpool branch. She could feel that something was wrong from the responses she was receiving from the woman. The woman had come into the bank wanting to cancel her home insurance since she planned to sell the home she was living in. Seeing her age, Karbowski felt compelled to ask her the reason behind such a move. "I asked, why are you selling? She was a little bit nervous, she said, 'I have to sell, I have to help my son'," Karbowski said. Not convinced, Karbowski took the old woman into the office for a conversation.


Soon she got the woman to reveal that she was arranging money to help her boyfriend who claimed to be in jail overseas. Due to her own personal experience, Karbowski immediately realized what was going on. "My next question was, please tell me the last time he took you out for a coffee, and she said, 'Actually, never, we met online,' " the bank teller shared. She asked for photos from the woman and ran them through Google's reverse image search to confirm her suspicions. "All the photos she received were online, but with different names," she added. By showing the customer that the photos of her partner were so widely circulated on the internet, Krabowski was able to convince the old woman that she had been duped following which they went to the police station to report the crime.


Krabowski's father had fallen prey to such a scam and lost his life savings. Hence this situation was easy for her to figure out. "We care and when we see those red flags, we act," she said. Westpac is not only giving training to employees like Krabowski but also ensuring that their digital experience also has the awareness to stop such scams. They have incorporated features like SaferPay with AI, to identify "high-risk" transactions. Another idea that the organization wants to implement is asking questions prior to transactions. These questions will allow the technology to identify the purpose behind the transaction and if it raises red flags, and the employees could immediately put the brakes on it. "You try to bottle up magic like Marlena's training in a human being and put that in a digital experience," Westpac's Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Insights, Ben Young, told 9News.

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