Aussie sees $40,000 ‘disappear completely’ in Shark Tank scam

A Sydney woman and her husband were scammed out of $40,000 in 2018. Last month, the scammers contacted her again.

Shark Tank presenters who image was used in scam.
Anna got sucked into a fake celebrity endorsement scam, which used images of the former Shark Tank cast. (Source: Ten)

Anna* remembers waking at 3 o’clock one morning and hearing her husband collapsing next to her.

“He said, ‘They’ve taken all the money and they’ve just disappeared’. I said, ‘How much?’. He said, ‘$40,000’,” Anna told Yahoo Finance.

“And I went, ‘You’ve got to be bloody kidding me’.”

Anna, who runs a fitness and well-being business in Sydney, got sucked into an investment scam after seeing an online ad on Facebook in 2018.

The fake celebrity endorsement scam used images of previous TV presenters on the show Shark Tank and claimed investors could make huge amounts of money with just a $250 deposit.

“At the time I thought, ‘That sounds quite good’ and I put the money in. It was me being quite stupid in retrospect to think I could make money just like that,” she said.

Shark Tank scam.
The ACCC previously put out a warning about the Shark Tank scams and shared this example. (Source: ACCC)

The investment was done via the company EuropeFX, which has been flagged as a scam broker. From the moment Anna gave her money and details, she said she was bombarded with phone calls day and night.

“This person hounded me for, I don’t know how many days, and I kept saying, ‘Stop ringing me, I’m going to hang up on you next time you ring’,” she said.

Anna’s husband eventually decided to talk to the scammer and was persuaded into giving over his credit card details to put more money into the supposed investments.

“That was a really bad, stupid thing to do. It’s almost embarrassing to know how totally scammed we were,” Anna said.

The couple only realised they had been scammed out of $40,000 when Anna’s husband checked his Westpac Mastercard account. While they blocked the card immediately, Anna said they were unable to recover any of the money.

“We lost that money and it disappeared completely. We had to pay our credit card back and it was really horrible,” she said.

Scammers contact again

It wasn’t the end of Anna and her husband’s scam ordeal. Just last month, the couple was contacted by a company that claimed they could “help recover” the money they had lost to the investment scam.

Anna believes they were connected to the previous scam, with the company claiming they had got hold of their details while recovering funds for other people.

“They gave us all the right details and said they had an office in Sydney and another in Essex,” she said.

The couple cautiously decided to set up a Zoom meeting with the company, who told them they needed to open a cryptocurrency account in order to recover their money. Luckily, they did not disclose any further information to them and avoided being scammed again.

Earlier this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch put out an alert about scammers targeting people who had lost money through EuropeFX. It warned Aussies to not respond or interact with the message.

Aussies unable to recover money

Research by Real Insurance found Aussies who had fallen victim to a scam had lost $4,307, on average.

While a third of Aussies were able to recover their money in full, almost half (45 per cent) were unable to get anything back.

And the loss goes beyond the financial. The survey of 5,054 people found more than half (51 per cent) of those targeted by scams experienced negative well-being or mental impacts, with 17 per cent labelling the impact as considerable.

While Anna said she was now more nervous after being scammed, she said she thankfully hadn’t had any considerable mental health impacts.

“I’ve said to my husband, ‘Lucky we are who we are because we can move through it’. I teach meditation and I think because of that way of thinking we have not had mental health problems.”

Anna urged other Aussies to contact the Australian Cyber Security Hotline (1300 292 371) if they were unsure about something, and to look up the company’s email addresses and websites.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons

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