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A mother was left devastated after hackers emptied her bank account of $200,000 in life savings after a mysterious $210 deposit.
Donna Brain, 56, from Melbourne, had saved up the money to buy a new house after a painful divorce, but it was all gone a day after she noticed an unexpected $210 in her Commonwealth bank account.
“I don’t even know how it happened,” a tearful Ms Bain told Channel Seven. “After everything I’ve been through, I just wanted a nice house to live in.”
Ms. Brain, who works as a nurse, received a phone call from someone posing as a bank employee after the $210 deposit, from a name she did not recognize.
The caller, Mrs. Bain, asked her to return the $210 that was allegedly sent to her by accident.
One disturbing aspect is that the caller did not ask Ms. Bain for any personal information.
“They didn’t ask for any NetBank number or password,” she said.
Following this, $500 was withdrawn from Mrs. Bain’s account without her knowledge.
When this was done successfully, larger transfers were made in quick succession.
“They transferred six lots of $20,000 and then $80,000,” Ms. Bain said.
I don’t even know how it happened.
However, there is a happy ending to this story, as the Commonwealth Bank returned to Mrs. Bain the full amount that was stolen from her.
She is still moving into her new house, but her experience has traumatized her so much that she checks her account every day to make sure the money is there.
Relatively speaking, Ms. Bain is one of the lucky ones with many scam victims never seeing their lost money again.
Consumer Action Law Center advocate Gerard Brody told the Seven Network it was a ‘real lottery’ if victims of the scam got their money back.
Most Australian banks have recently reported being targeted by scammers.
People have been warned to beware of unsolicited phone calls from people claiming to work for banks, unexpected emails about strange transactions, and even bogus websites posing as bank portals.
In July it was revealed that high-profile Nine Network host Jess Ridley had lost $35,000 to scammers posing as Westpac bank employees.
Ridley received a text message over the weekend purportedly from a genuine Westpac number that there had been a suspicious transaction on his account.
Ms. Brain received a phone call from someone posing as a Commonwealth Bank employee asking her to return $210 that had been deposited into her account “in error.”
The reporter, who was in a hospital emergency room at the time tending to her son who had broken her arm, then spoke to someone claiming to be from the ‘Westpac Fraud Team.’
Ridley went through a series of bogus steps that seemed official to make her account “more secure.”
However, the following Monday she realized that $35,000 was missing from her account and called the scammer’s number, which this time she connected to a genuine Westpac employee who told her that the bank had not contacted her.
“On Monday morning, I called Westpac at the same number (that the scammers had used) and quoted my case number,” she told Radio 2GB’s Ben Fordham.
In a happy turn of events, the Commonwealth Bank reimbursed Ms. Bain for the full amount the fraudsters stole from her.
Initially she just got silence on the other end of the line and this person just said we don’t know anything about this and the penny just dropped.
‘It could happen to anyone.’
The scammers appeared to be using caller ID spoofing or overstamp technology, where a fraud syndicate uses a legitimate business phone number to deceive consumers.
Another devious phone scam, which has claimed many victims by playing on parental devotion, is the so-called ‘Hi Mom’ scam.
Donna Brain Quick and Facts
- Melbourne mum Donna Brain loses $200,000 life savings to in bank hacking
- The sum was taken out after Ms Brain had a $210 mystery deposit in her account
- She received a phone call which she thought was from the bank about deposit
- Despite not giving any passwords or numbers the account was steadily drained