Devastating Email Scam Depletes Innocent Father’s Entire Life Savings: Left with Nothing

Devastating Email Scam Depletes Innocent Father’s Entire Life Savings: Left with Nothing


A father who was looking forward to retirement is now struggling to make ends meet after losing his life savings in a cruel scam.

For the last 40 years, Renato Calalang has done nothing but work incredibly hard in all different types of jobs in order to make his life the best it could possibly be.

The 60-year-old has always believed in the importance of saving every penny and that is exactly what he has done for decades in anticipation of a relaxing retirement.

With almost $150,000 sitting in his bank account, Renato felt safe knowing that he and his family would be financially secure in the future once he reached pension age in the near future.

Renato Calalang spent 40 years working and saving for retirement. Family Handout

But now all of his dreams have been snatched from under him in one swift move after he opened an email from someone claiming to be from a bank in his native Philippines.

Renato moved to Australia from Manila back in 1986 but still has a lot of extended family back home, some of who he has never even met before.

So when he received an email stating that a relative had passed away and left him some inheritance in their will, he did not think it was totally out of the realm of possibility.

Scammers told Renato that in order to receive the inheritance he would need to open a bank account in the Phillipines. Renato Calalang

But sadly, opening that email was the worst mistake Renato would ever make.

“I got an email from someone called Steve Golds who said they were the owner of a bank in Manila,” the warehouse worker told News.com.au.

“He said I was entitled to an inheritance of 3.8 million euro and I just needed to provide my details, which I did in my reply.

“He even provided all the documents in relation to who he said was my cousin, there was a death certificate and everything.

“I have a cousin named the same as the person in the documents, so it seemed legitimate.

“They said I needed to open a bank in the Philippines in order to get my inheritance. But to do this I’d need to deposit some money.

The scammers sent a fake death certificate to make it seem more legitimate. Renato Calalang

“But I could not make the transfer to that bank directly, but instead he said their agent in Australia would help me with this.

“So I deposited some funds into a Commonwealth Bank account, which is the same bank that I am with.

“This made me feel like nothing bad could happen, and if something were to go wrong, I thought I would be able to chase up Commonwealth Bank for help.”

Have you been the victim of a scam? Get in touch: jasmine.kazlauskas@news.com.au

“Nothing left”

Over the next three months, Renato explained that in good faith he kept depositing money when they asked for it in the hope he would soon receive his inheritance.

Before long, he had nothing left.

Looking back, he says he can see how obviously it was a scam, but in the moment it felt very real and he even talked to one of the scammers on the phone, who he said sounded legitimate.

With little money left to his name, he alerted the police, Scamwatch and his bank about what had occurred, but sadly nothing has eventuated.

“I was devastated. I went to the Commonwealth Bank for help in September 2023 and told them what happened,” Renato explained.

“I told them what happened and they investigated the case. After two months they told me I had been scammed. They said they could not recover the funds because the overseas bank would not co-operate.

Calalang received an email claiming that a distant relative had died and there was some inheritance for him. Family Handout

“The man I talked to was based in the Netherlands. I spoke to him once. “He was very convincing. Very soft-spoken, nothing seemed off.”

Renato says while he understands that he is the one who fell victim to the scam, he wishes that there had been some security measures set in place by his bank.

“Surely that would come up as suspicious activity, to have that much taken out all the time,” he said.

“I wish they had alerted me that this was a scam. If they see someone’s account diminishing, something is obviously wrong.

Calalang was frustrated that his bank did not alert him as his funds were being drained. Family Handout

“But instead they just said it was my fault. Yet the scammers have bank accounts with Commonwealth.

“I’ve been a customer of theirs for nearly 40 years, but yet I feel like I was just treated like another number.”

“Still feel sick”

With barely anything left to his name, Renato has found himself having to “start at the bottom” again at 60 years old.

With a wife and children to support, he says he has felt ‘depressed’ and ‘anxious’ about their future.

“I’ve worked so hard my entire life just for this to happen,” he said.

“I was looking forward to a bright future and relaxed retirement. But instead I’m not just living day to day.

“My financial freedom has been taken away from me and my self-esteem is at such a low point.

“At this point, my family really is the only thing that is keeping me going.”

He is sharing his story in order to raise awareness and hopes that it may help others from being victimised by scammers in the future.

Renato also hopes that the Commonwealth Bank might still be able to get some of his funds back.

“I am still trying to process what happened, I still feel sick just thinking about the fact that I’d been scammed,” he said.

“I still hope the bank might be able to get some of my money back, if not everything. I have to live in hope.

“It is just terrible that there are criminals out there that could target innocent people. I truly hope nobody else had to go through this same ordeal.”

Commonwealth Bank’s Response

A spokesperson for CBA confirmed to news.com.au that they are aware of these type of scams and urged customers to be extra careful when sending money to people they do not know.

Even after reporting the scam to his bank, nothing could be done. Renato Calalang

“CBA acknowledges the financial and emotional burden scams have on customers and the community,” they said.

“We are aware of instances where a scammer will offer the false promise of an inheritance or share in a large sum of money. This may be through a phone call, text or email.

“In communicating with the customer, the scammer will request payment of a smaller up-front fee.

“CBA encourages people to be vigilant when being asked to send money, and to ‘Stop. Check. Reject’ when assessing requests for payment.

Commonwealth Bank encouraged its clients to be more careful when sending money. Pema Tamang Pakhrin

“This includes taking the extra time to consult a trusted family member or friend as a sounding board before making a payment to an unfamiliar recipient if there is a promise of a large sum of money in return.

“If you think you have been scammed or if you notice an unusual transaction or one you didn’t make, contact your bank immediately.”

They added that despite their attempts to get some of Mr Calalang’s money back, they were unsuccessful.

“In this instance, Mr Calalang made a number of transfers to multiple banks over a two month period in response to the scammer telling him this would in turn release a substantial inheritance,” they said.

“When Mr Calalang contacted CBA about the transfers he had made we promptly attempted to recover the funds but were unsuccessful.

“For more information on protecting yourself from fraud and scams, including information on common types of scams, visit http://www.commbank.com.au/safe.”






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