A hardworking teenager was left heartbroken as her entire life savings vanished after she fell victim to a convincing phone scam.
For the last four years, 18-year-old Aurora Casilli, from Western Australia, has been working and saving every penny she could get her hands on with the dream of buying her own home.
At one point she worked three jobs to try and increase her savings, and she resisted spending money on nights out, make up or clothes like her friends to set herself up for her future.
But all of her efforts turned to dust in December, after Aurora received a message she believed to be from her bank.
The text appeared from the same number and even in the same text thread as previous correspondence from her bank, NAB, and claimed someone she didn't know was trying to make a transfer from her account.
Panicked, Aurora followed the instructions on the text and called a 1800 number in a 'state of panic'.
Speaking to news.com.au, she recalled: “I was just at home, about to make breakfast when the text came through.
“I panicked when I read it. All the money I had saved, and now I thought someone was in my account trying to make an unauthorised transfer. The text was from NAB, and was underneath others messages I got from them.
"It seemed legit to me, so I called the number in a panic. If it was from a random mobile number, I wouldn’t have believed it. But it seemed so real.”
She was on hold for an hour, all the while listening to the music and voice prompts she'd heard while calling her bank in the past, before being greeted by a 'professional and polite' man with a British accent.
The man told Aurora someone had gained access to her bank account, and advised her to transfer her savings into another NAB account in her name, which the man claimed to be setting up for her.
Aurora obliged and sent over her life savings - a total of $36,561.37.
Seconds after the transfer was confirmed, the man hung up. It wasn't until Aurora looked at her bank statement that she realised the bank she'd transferred the money to wasn't an NAB account.
“I felt sick, I just got this gut feeling that something was terribly wrong,” she said.
“I called back, and asked why he wanted me to transfer the money into a Commonwealth account. He hung up again. That’s when it hit home, I’d been scammed.”
The teenager was tricked by a technique known as spoofing, which makes scams seem more legitimate.
She quickly contacted the bank which owned the account into which she'd sent her money, but the funds had already been withdrawn.
Following her ordeal, Aurora is warning others to be vigilant when it comes to banking.
"I just want to raise awareness so this doesn’t happen to others,” she said, adding: "If it can happen to me, it could happen to anyone. It is so scary what these scammers can do."
Aurora described herself as 'heartbroken', and expressed belief NAB should be 'held responsible and have more security measures in place, so that their customers do not get scammed.'
NAB’s Executive of Group Investigations and Fraud Chris Sheehan said the bank was unable to comment on individual cases, but told news.com.au it has 'seen a significant increase in scams in recent years'.
He urged anyone who might be unsure whether or not they're talking to the bank to hang up and call NAB on the number found on the back of their card.
NAB ultimately determined it was not liable for Aurora's lost funds as she had authorised the payment on her own device. It offered her $3000 as a gesture of goodwill, but the teenager declined.
"I’m honestly just heartbroken, and I hope nobody else will ever have to go through this," she said.