A Perth family reliant on a single income is battling mounting bills and financial distress after falling prey to a sophisticated phone scam that fleeced them of $32,000.

The ordeal unfolded through a series of fake bank calls and messages, culminating in a ruthless raid on their bank account within just a few hours.

The victims, a family of five, were lured into the scam by a well-organised gang of criminals who impersonated bank officials with persuasive deception.

The mother of three, who preferred not to disclose her identity, told 9 News she answered an incoming call on an ordinary Monday afternoon.

The call displayed no caller ID, and she was informed that a fraudulent transaction had occurred in New Zealand on her husband’s bank account.

The plot thickened when her husband received a subsequent call and a barrage of texts, all of which appeared highly convincing.

The messages contained codes that he unwittingly handed over under the pressure of the situation, believing they were legitimate communications from their banking institution, Westpac.

Tragically, this error in judgment led to a series of 22 unauthorised cash withdrawals in the United Kingdom, resulting in a total loss of $32,000 within hours.

“They were able to give him his date of birth and all of his details, sort of establishing their credibility and gaining his trust,” the woman told 9 News.

The victim eventually contacted Westpac directly to validate the authenticity of the scam calls, saying: “I just want to know if this is legit or not.”

“The woman I spoke to said I can see your accounts have been frozen, so yes, it all looks above board,” she recalled.

The family’s attempts to seek help from Westpac have been met with frustration.

They were informed it would take 45 business days for the bank to investigate the matter.

“The bank manager got very sarcastic and said “look, it takes as long as it takes,” and that was a kick in the teeth,” the victim said.

It’s claimed a Westpac employee confided in the victim that this was one of the worst scams they had encountered during their 16 years with the bank.

In response to the ordeal, Owen Kelly from Consumer Protection Western Australia issued a crucial piece of advice: “What the consumers need to do is practice the pause – stop, take a deep breath, and think about what’s happening here and what you’re being asked to do.”

In a statement to the broadcaster, Westpac assured customers that they are actively investigating the incident and taking customer data protection seriously, with significant investments made in scam prevention, successfully thwarting more than 60 per cent of such cases.

After the scam, the victim voiced her disappointment, saying: “You need to give a little; you can’t be this cold.”

“You’re dealing with human beings. You’re dealing with children. You’re dealing with a family,” she said.

“I explained to the kids that your money is safer in a bank than in a piggy bank at home. Every cent of that is now gone.”

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