What are fund recovery scams?

Fund recovery scams are when criminals contact a person who has lost money due to a scam (it may be an investment, romance or another scam) and claim they can recover the lost funds. They’ll ask that you pay an upfront fee – often a percentage of the funds originally lost – for the recovery ‘service’. 

There’s only one problem – they do nothing to assist and disappear with your money.

A case study

Read about John’s experience with a fund recovery scam.

An initial investment

John* received a call one day from Peter, a representative of a company claiming to be able to get John’s money back. Peter had extensive knowledge about how John had lost finances in an elaborate investment scam.

Eight months earlier, John had been looking for an investment, and noticed an online ad for an investment app promising good returns. He sent an initial investment of $5,000 and was given links to a trading platform which showed how his investment was growing. 

When John’s circumstances changed and he needed his money back, he attempted to withdraw his funds. He found his access to the trading platform was gone. He couldn’t contact anyone at the investment company to find out what was happening.   

“It was at that stage I realised I’d been scammed – they’d never been investing my money at all.”  John contacted NAB, who were unable to recover his money.

A bit of hope

John recalls, “I’d pretty much given up hope of getting that money back, but when I received the phone call saying that this company had ways of recovering the funds that the banks didn’t know about – well, it was a bit of hope that I’d be able to get my money back.”

All John had to do was send Peter’s company a fee of 10% of what he’d lost. Peter could guarantee that John would get his money back.

“I was most surprised to get another call from Peter about four days later saying they had my money, but due to it being in an overseas bank account, I had to pay an extra fee to get it released from the account, and then some additional taxes for the money to be sent from that country. At this stage, I wanted to double check with NAB as the fees seemed to keep piling up.” 

Finding out the truth

John called NAB and spoke to banker Priya, who told him this was another scam.

“Criminals regularly share your details and information with other criminals if they’ve been able to get money out of you before – so everyone needs to be aware of what they’re up to!”

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

Know the signs of a scam

Common signs of a fund recovery scam include:

  • You’ve already lost money as part of a scam.
  • A ‘recovery’ organisation makes unsolicited contact with you via a phone call, email or social media.
  • They pressure you to act now, otherwise you may miss out.
  • They claim to have inside information which will help them recover your funds.
  • The organisation might demand secrecy and say the bank can’t know.

Protect yourself from fund recovery scams

Follow these simple tips to protect yourself from fund recovery scams:

  • Treat any unsolicited phone calls or messages with caution. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call back on an official phone number. The general NAB number is 13 22 65 – you’ll find it on the back of your card and on our website.
  • Never pay upfront for a refund or for help with a refund. That means never provide your bank account, credit card, other payment or personal information to get a refund. 
  • Legitimate companies will not ask you to pay by gift card, cryptocurrency or overseas transfers. 
  • If you receive a call of this nature, call your bank to discuss it before proceeding.

Who to contact for help

If you’re a NAB customer and believe you may have fallen victim to a scam, please call 13 22 65 immediately and ask for the Digital Fraud and Scams Team.

Helpful resources

These organisations can also help you protect yourself from scams.

How to identify other fraud and scams

Learn about different types of scams and how to avoid them.

Protect your personal information

Cyber criminals can use your personal information to commit fraud. Here's how to protect yourself and your family's information.

Important information