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Victorian woman with stage-four breast cancer fleeced out of life savings by scammer

Victorian woman with stage-four breast cancer fleeced out of life savings by scammer

A terminally ill Victorian woman with stage-four breast cancer has been fleeced out of her entire life savings by a heartless scammer.

Carolyn Coster, from Traralgon in West Gippsland, had been at La Trobe Regional Hospital in December last year when a PET scan revealed her cancer had metastasised to her bones and was at stage 4.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Victorian mum with stage four cancer scammed out of life savings.

Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>

Coster had rapidly lost 25kgs and was too vulnerable to handle chemotherapy.

She returned home a few days before Christmas, but was in a very “vulnerable” state, close friend Marg Thomson, who is speaking on Coster’s behalf, told 7NEWS.com.au

“So her prognosis is basically that it’s incurable,” Thomson said.

When Coster got home, a man who claimed to be from PayPal called and said her account had been compromised.

At first, Coster dismissed it, but the man continued to call throughout the day.

“He kept going for six hours … just harassing her and telling her he had all sorts of documents and proof,” Thomson said.

“Every question she asked of him he had an answer for, so he really just wore her down.”

The next day, the man called again and claimed he needed access to Coster’s account.

Carolyn Coster. Credit: Supplied

Coster, who was exhausted and in a vulnerable state, gave her bank details to the man in the hopes he would leave her alone.

“By this time she’s devastated, and she’s just been given the news that she’s dying … she’s weak, extremely fragile and completely on her own with no one to take care of her,” Thomson said.

“Then this guy just keeps harassing her and talking over the top of her and giving her a really hard time.”

When Coster checked her account, all her savings — a total of $5,000 had been taken out.

“She felt so ashamed … she was absolutely gutted,” Thomson said.

“She didn’t even want to tell me any of this when I spoke with her, I had to pry it all out of her.”

Coster, who had just signed the lease for a new home to live in, was devastated and said she was worried she was going to lose the contract as she had run out of money to cover the bond and rent.

Coster contacted Bendigo Bank for support, who advised her it would take four to six weeks to reach a resolution.

However, 7NEWS.com.au understands Bendigo Bank has since contacted Coster and plans to fully reimburse her.

A spokesperson for Bendigo Bank said they “work hard to support customers when they are victims of scam and fraud”.

“Bendigo Bank takes cybersecurity very seriously, protecting our customers and safeguarding our systems with a variety of cyber-crime prevention methods,” the bank said.

“The bank has tightened transaction rules blocking high-risk payments to cryptocurrency exchanges, removed all links from SMS messages and doubled the size of its fraud prevention and response team and last financial year, Bendigo Bank stopped $38.6 million in fraudulent transactions or about $105,000 per day.”

Thomson and Coster said they wanted to share their story with others as a warning.

“These guys are really good at what they do,” Thomson said

“And when somebody is extremely vulnerable and somebody is hammering them, it’s just easier to give in and to just accept that these people who are screaming at you could be right.

“They are just really horrible, horrible, horrible people … oh I have so many words I could use to describe these people.”

Bank’s advice

Bendigo Bank recommends following ScamWatch advice:

1. Don’t give money or personal information to anyone if unsure.

Scammers will offer to help you or ask you to verify who you are. They will pretend to be from organisations you know and trust like Services Australia, police, government or a fraud service.

2. Ask yourself, could the message or call be fake?

Never click a link in a message. Only contact us, businesses or government using contact information from their official website or through their secure apps. If you’re not sure, say no, hang up or delete.

3. Act quickly if something feels wrong.

If you notice unusual activity or if a scammer gets your money or information, visit www.bendigobank.com.au/security to report it and get support.

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