A hard-working Australian family has been robbed of half a million dollars – after being tricked into investing in an elaborate banking scam.
Jody and Corey Bridges have spent years working hard and managing their money smartly to plan for their daughters’ future.
“We used to work five jobs between us. I’m a teacher and then I used to tutor every afternoon,” Jody said.
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“My husband has his own landscaping business and works about 18 hours a day six days a week.”
After selling a property, the couple had a million dollars that they were ready to invest.
“A few friends told me about some government bonds that earn you a little more than a deposit in a bank,” Jody said.
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Jody is a math teacher. So she did her homework and found a website for Capel Court Finance – which according to Google search results is part of ANZ.
“I thought I was dealing with a company affiliated with ANZ bank and after two months of legitimate communications, emails, phone calls, web pages, they explained to me everything I had invested”, Jody said.
The mother-of-three even called ASIC to check the company’s ABN.
“Everything was black and white, all under the ABN and ANZ financial license, so when I called ASIC, before I spent the money, everything was checked out,” Jody said.
Jody transferred $250,000 at a time from a Teachers Mutual Bank account to the ANZ account provided.
The first two payments were recalled, but the next two were made.
It was only after the fourth and final transaction that Jody says Teachers Mutual Bank called her.
“Called me and told me you were caught in a scam and I was in shock, in disbelief,” Jody said.
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Half a million dollars was missing – but Jody says she clung to hope for weeks because the scammers stayed in touch with her.
“If there was anything untoward I wouldn’t even bother to call you back. Jody your money is fine and it’s being called back,” the scammer said.
They tried to say the recall was their doing, to win back his trust and get the rest of his money.
“I’m also a little hurt that you’re not even congratulating me on getting that money back,” said another scammer.
“I mean, it was pretty epic that we got that back. I mean, you gotta be happy about that.”
“He tried every scenario,” Corey said.
“He asked Jody to open a crypto account and log in so they could be on the same platform to transfer money, which when Jody called me at work, I said she obviously didn’t seek advice from the bank as well and they said they could bug your computer then.”
When Jody wasn’t playing ball, we got angry.
“You told me yesterday it was going into crypto,” Jody said.
“Yeah listen to me now mate, I’m done with that soft shit,” the scammer replied.
“Well me too,” Jody said.
“Do you want your 500 grand back or not?” The crook asked.
“Put 100 in this fucking account and you get your money back or you get nothing back.
” And that ? said the crook.
“Okay no problem. I’m not putting anything in it. No,” Jody said.
“Don’t call me again. You’re wasting my fucking time,” the scammer said.
“You fucking crook,” Jody said.
“Fuck you,” said the crook.
Jody also received calls from Steven Meneghetti, who told her that her ANZ account had received her money.
“He said, ‘my accounts and personal accounts are also frozen.’
“He went on to say he wasn’t able to buy groceries and use credit cards and so on and so I think it was more looking back on it I think that it was more of a ploy to get Jody to act to get the recall removed,” Corey said.
Steven told Jody that he was an investment adviser who trades for people and that he transferred $500,000 to her in another account.
“That money went in and almost immediately out in I don’t know crypto, bitcoin, pretty much the black market,” Jody said.
It’s unclear if Steven – who seems to enjoy the finer things in life – was involved in the scam.
He worked for a company that specialized in removing unwanted online content.
Steven appears to have taken his former employer’s advice after we contacted him, with his Youtube and Facebook accounts now deleted.
“Hello, is this Steve?” I asked. “Yes, speaking,” he said.
“Oh Hi Steven, this is Hannah Sinclair from A topical matter.
“This conversation is recorded. I just wanted to touch base,” I said, before he hung up on me.
When we interviewed Jody and Corey, the scammers website was still online
“It’s still operational. I can actually log into my client portal and I can see the bonds they said I was buying,” Jody said.
“I mean, it really makes me sick because as long as this page is still up and running, it gets more people.”
Jody reported the scam to the police, banks, ASIC and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft, commander of the Cybercrime Squad, says when it comes to recovery money, time is running out.
“Report early, show up, please don’t be embarrassed,” Detective Craft said.
“We have a very close working relationship with the banks and are able to follow the trail of the money very closely, including when it goes overseas or into other cryptocurrency assets. “
Delia Rickard of the ACCC says banks and customers need to be constantly on their toes.
“Banks really need to report suspicious transactions. Reach out to the consumer. Talk about their concerns to make sure it’s legitimate,” Delia said.
“Do you think the banks involved are also partially responsible for what happened here?” I asked.
“Yes, I believe Teachers Mutual Bank and ANZ are,” Jody said.
“Teachers Mutual Bank, well, they didn’t ask any questions about where the money was going, what we were buying, and I think they were negligent in their duty of care.”
“No one’s hard-earned money should disappear with a single click.”
An ANZ spokesperson said: “ANZ works hard to protect its customers from scams with a team of specialists monitoring around the clock for unusual activity.
“We are also able to provide helpful tips and advice on how customers can help protect their money and data.
“We don’t publicly comment on specific client details, but 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 their ongoing investigations into the case and we are working on any relevant information that may help.
“As this is currently under investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.
Teachers Mutual Bank said: “Teachers Mutual Bank Limited takes investment scams very seriously.
“We work to protect our members from scams and financial loss.
“As this matter is currently before the AFCA, we will continue to follow the AFCA’s complaint resolution process and uphold our confidentiality obligations to our members while this is investigated.
“Teachers Mutual Bank Limited is in continuous communication with affected members.
“We cannot comment further on the matter at this time.”