Fake ANZ Bank Capel Court scam swindles $1.56million from Aussie victims | #datingscams | #lovescams | romancescams | #scams


A sophisticated British conman has ripped off Aussie families for more than $1.5million in an elaborate series of banking frauds that have left victims penniless.

The fraudster with a cut glass English accent is believed to be the frontman for a gang of up to 20 who have created a cleverly designed hustle to fleece the unwary.

The scam uses genuine company names and tax numbers to lure in victims, along with complicated and authentic-looking websites and contracts.

Even detailed research appears to show everything is legitimate – until the victims try to recover their cash, only to discover it’s all gone without any hope of recovery.

Now a Melbourne man has revealed how he lost $700,000 to the con, while an embarrassed accountant has admitted even he was taken in – and lost $160,000.

A sophisticated British conman has ripped off Aussie families for more than $1.5million in an elaborate series of banking frauds that have left victims penniless

Last month, Daily Mail Australia revealed how one Australian couple has been robbed of $500,000 by the gang after 15 years of juggling multiple jobs to save a nest egg. 

And last October, an elderly couple on the Gold Coast were robbed of $200,000 life savings in the scam, leaving them with only the age pension to survive.

All the victims are believed to have fallen for the sales patter of the same Brit, who calls himself a series of names including Ben Davis, David Jones and Oliver James.

He got in touch with them by phone after they discovered the gang’s fake website which appears to offer treasury bonds at a higher than normal interest rate return.

The website looks like it is part of ANZ Bank’s Capel Court investment division and seems authentic, even copying official ACN number and financial services licence details which check out with government records.

The scam uses authentic and complex websites to lure in the unwary

It spoofs genuine companies and brands and convinces victims by using genuine company credentials

The scam uses genuine company names and tax numbers to lure in victims, along with complicated and authentic-looking websites and contracts

Industry experts believe the sophisticated scam indicated a gang of about 20 fraudsters working together to create the website, correspondence and backend, combined with the Brit frontman, labelled ‘slick’ by one victim.

Andy from Melbourne felt confident when he saw his initial investment of $150,000 in Commonwealth Bank Bonds with the fraudsters turn up in his online account on the fake website.

The scammers kept in contact with him and he then ordered $550,000 of Swedish Treasury Bills three weeks later.

The father of two even recommended the scam to his sister-in-law who wanted to invest $200,000.

But her bank red flagged it as a possible scam and she managed to recover her cash in time.

Industry experts believe the sophisticated scam indicated a gang of about 20 fraudsters working together to create the website, correspondence and backend

Industry experts believe the sophisticated scam indicated a gang of about 20 fraudsters working together to create the website, correspondence and backend

‘Even then, I was [still] very convinced that it was a genuine investment,’ Andy told news.com.au.

It was only when his dividend was late in appearing that he began to get worried and reported his concerns to his bank in April. 

RED FLAG WARNINGS

Promise of low risks with high returns

Always remember, if something seems too good to be true it probably is. If you are promised ‘guaranteed returns’ this is a warning sign.

You are contacted out of the blue  

You receive a call, email or message on social media from someone offering unsolicited advice on investments.

High-pressure tactics

 You are contacted repeatedly and are told that you need to act quickly and invest or you will miss out.

Remember you have less protections with cryptocurrency investments and scammers know this.

Someone you haven’t met in person offers you investment advice

Never take investment advice from someone you meet on social media or a dating app.

Use of celebrity endorsements or images

These are usually fake. Celebrities rarely discuss their investments or financial decisions in public.

Someone has convincing promotional materials or websites

If documents like prospectuses aren’t registered with ASIC, it is likely part of a scam.

You are asked to deposit funds into different accounts for each transaction

Scammers may claim this is for security reasons, or because they are an international company.

SOURCE: ACCC SCAMWATCH 

After a series of phone calls, the scammers did eventually pay a $1500 dividend, but the  transfer into his account sounded the alarm on the fraud.

Rather than come from ANZ Bank or Capel Court, it was sent by a company calling itself Spacehansa.

He reported it to the police two days later – but it was already too late. His money had gone. 

Andy revealed: ‘The bank said, “There’s no money to be recovered”. My heart literally sank.’

Accountant Robert suffered a similar fate, despite grilling the Brit conman over the phone.

‘I was asking fairly technical questions,’ he revealed. ‘They knew the answers. I suspect they spent quality time in a financial institution.

‘It wasn’t just a shallow conversation, that’s what lulled me into that sense of security. It was really well thought out. It was quite a set up.’

He ended up investing $160,000 and watched it transfer successfully into his account on the fake site where it remained visible online.

The con artists kept in contact with the accountant, even cheekily warning him the office would be closed on a public holiday, which merely comforted Robert that all was well. 

He added; ‘I’ve got a finance background. I’m an accountant – that’s why this is a bit embarrassing.’ 

But after Daily Mail Australia and other media last month ran stories about a family on the Central Coast who were fleeced for $500,000 by the gang, the website suddenly vanished – along with all Robert’s cash.

‘I saw the article and that’s when I panicked,’ he admitted. ‘It makes me sick to my stomach.’

Maths teacher Jody Bridges and her landscaper husband Corey lost their $500,000 after investing half their profits from selling a home during the Covid property boom.

The Central Coast couple had worked hard to build up a fortune for their three young children, Tahnee, Ava and Isla – and Ms Bridges said finding out she’d been scammed was ‘gut-wrenching’.

Jody and Corey Bridges (pictured together) have been scammed out of $500,000 by the hoax

Jody and Corey Bridges (pictured together) have been scammed out of $500,000 by the hoax

‘We used to work five jobs between us,’ Jody told A Current Affair. ‘I’m a school teacher and then I used to tutor students every afternoon.

‘My husband has his own landscaping business and pretty much works 18 hour days, six days a week.’

Jody said she had done due diligence on the company, confirming Capel Court’s ABN with Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

She then transferred four payments of $250,000 to an ANZ account associated with the scammers.

The ruthless scammers threatened the couple when they tried to recover their money

The ruthless scammers threatened the couple when they tried to recover their money

Jody Bridges said it was 'gut wrenching' when she was informed she had been scammed

Jody Bridges said it was ‘gut wrenching’ when she was informed she had been scammed

Two payments were returned but two went through – and by the time the bank tried to retrieve the further missing $500,000, the money had been transferred to an untraceable bitcoin fund.

‘I would never ever forgive myself … the guilt I have to live with. I could never work enough to ever repay that,’ Ms Bridges added.

‘I didn’t come from a lot, I feel my job in life is to set my kids up, to be the best mum I can and to set my kids up for life.’

She is also angry her bank processed two huge payments to the scammers after stopping another two. 

‘I believe they’ve been negligent in their duty of care,’ a tearful Ms Bridges said ‘Nobody’s hard-earned money should be gone with just the click of a button.’

The couple have reported the scam to NSW police, the banks, ASIC and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, but are unlikely to see their cash returned.

By the time the bank tried to retrieve Judy and Cory Bridges' missing $500,000, the money had been transferred to an untraceable bitcoin fund

By the time the bank tried to retrieve Judy and Cory Bridges’ missing $500,000, the money had been transferred to an untraceable bitcoin fund

At least three other separate potential victims have also since come forward, but they managed to halt their transfers before losing their savings, worth $860,000 in total.

Gold Coast couple Barhold and Antje Blecken lost $200,00 to an almost identical scam last October, based around a fake Barclays Bank website

Gold Coast couple Barhold and Antje Blecken lost $200,00 to an almost identical scam last October, based around a fake Barclays Bank website

But Gold Coast couple Barhold and Antje Blecken lost $200,00 to an almost identical scam last October, based around a fake Barclays Bank website.

Their contact was the same Brit who used the same mobile number – 0481 613 846 – as the conman in the ANZ Bank scam.

The Bleckens’ bank initially tried to block the transfer of their savings – but Mr Blecken insisted it was genuine and the bank relented, only for their cash to vanish.

‘It was too late, the money was transferred, too late to recover,’ said Mr Blecken. ‘Emotionally it was a bit hard. We both get the age pension now.’

ANZ wouldn’t comment directly on the Bridges’ situation, but stressed the importance of customers being savvy with large amounts of money. 

‘ANZ works hard to protect its customers from scams with a specialist team monitoring for unusual activity around the clock,’ a spokesman said.

‘We do not publicly comment on any specific customer details, however we are aware of this latest bond scam, which is a particularly sophisticated operation that has unfortunately defrauded some people of their money.

‘ANZ is assisting NSW Police with its ongoing investigations into the matter.’

HOW TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED 

The ACCC’s Scamwatch site reveals Australians have already been fleeced of almost $158million in scams this year – and it’s still only June.

Most has been lost via mobile phone apps, with almost $80million snatched in just 280 incidents.

And it’s not just older Boomers who are getting scammed. Most incidents are among those aged 25-44, but those aged 45-plus lost the most money.

The ACCC warns those tempted to investment to make a few simple checks first.

If you are considering investing, always remember to: 

  • Check if a financial advisor is registered via the ASIC website. 
  • Any business or person that offers or advises you about financial products must hold an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence. 
  • Check ASIC’s list of companies you should not deal with. 
  • If the company that contacted you is on the list – do not deal with them. 
  • But even if they are not on the list it could still be a scam. 
  • The MoneySmart website also contains information about how to avoid investment scams. 
  • Search for the company online plus “review”, “complaint” or “scam”. 



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