Man in 80s scammed out of lifetime savings despite telling teller of plan to transfer money

A lifetime of savings for the grandkids - gone, in a flash.  

"I never thought it would ever happen to me," said an Auckland 81-year-old granddad who didn't want to be named, his feeling of shame too great to bear.  

But it did, and the scam that stole $40,000 from the grandparent has since sparked impassioned calls for banks to review their practices.  

"I'm pretty upset. I didn't know which way to turn. I had that money saved up for my granddaughter and my son and his wife."  

 He says it all started with a phone call from someone claiming to be a police officer.  

 "I was told they were working on a sting. They wanted to transfer money into (my) bank account. I'd get instructions on who to send it to. So, I said 'Yeah, ok, I can do that if it's going to help the situation.'"  

 He made a trip to the bank to talk to a teller about transferring tens of thousands of dollars to an offshore account they'd never used before.   

It's at this point, critics say, the bank should have picked up the scam.   

The victim doesn't want the name of the bank to be revealed, but it's one of New Zealand's largest providers.   

In a statement, the bank in question said: "Our branch staff showed him material designed to help spot scams... and asked on three occasions if he was sure he wasn’t being scammed. The customer assured us the payment was legitimate."  

But victim advocates say banks should be doing more to protect their customers.   

"We know the scammers are grooming them," Independent Scam Investigator Bronwyn Groot told Newshub.   

"Don't rely on the one fact that... just because the customer says it - that makes it right. We know (scammers) are walking them through the process. Sometimes they're even on the phone when they walk into the branch."  

She says tellers should be asking more questions.  

"Did someone talk to you over the phone? Have you met this person? We also need banks to slow the payments down particularly when you've got someone whose spending pattern is outside the norm. Slow it down and give (the banks') fraud teams time to investigate it."  

Consumer NZ says banks around the world are already doing this  

 "Yes. New Zealand banking is behind."  

 Consumer NZ Chief Executive Jon Duffy says key safety measures are missing in New Zealand, in the name of convenience.   

 Last month New Zealand banks did say they'd do better. Among their promises was to establish an industry-wide checking service  

 But time is ticking.  

 "Given the pace the New Zealand banking systems moves at, it could be some years before we see this introduced," Duffy says.  

 All the while, the number of victims is growing.  

 "We are seeing an increase," warns Age Concern CEO Karen Billings-Jensen.  

 "I think what worries us, is that because of shame, they might not be telling the bank they've been involved in a scam."  

 Government cyber security organisation CERTNZ says Kiwis are losing millions every year, and police say they're swamped in callouts.  

 "Nationally there will be hundreds of cases a day being reported to police," says Detective Senior Sargeant Ryan Bunting. "We know not all fraud is reported, so we know the scale is truly massive."  

 A truly massive issue, that this 81-year-old grandfather wishes he'd had more help fighting.