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Melbourne woman Jo O’Brien confronts scammer after losing $500,000


A woman who lost $500,000 to scammers has taken matters into her own hands, threatening to ruin the life of the alleged scammer behind the scheme.

Jo O’Brien settled her divorce in June 2022 and invested half a million dollars in what she believed to be a safe long-term deposit account managed by AMP.

But she was actually talking to fraudsters who tricked her into transferring the money to an Australian bank account before the funds were moved overseas and then disappeared altogether.

A Commonwealth Bank of Australia worker broke the news to Ms O’Brien that he «suspected it may be a fraud», leaving her inconsolable and in tears.

The fraudsters ran a small company in Melbourne and managed to steal $1.7 million from nine people.

Jo O’Brien settled her divorce in June 2022 and invested half a million dollars in what she believed to be a safe long-term deposit account managed by AMP.

Ms O’Brien managed to track down the phone number of the 29-year-old company director, who is desperate to get her money back.

“This is Jo O’Brien. The person you stole $500,000 from,” she texted ABC at 7:30 a.m.

“I won’t give up until I get my money back and ruin your life…

“You’ve got the wrong person.

Mrs. O’Brien lied to the scammer, telling him that she had a private investigator track down his family and had connections to senior people in Pakistani intelligence, where the scammer was from.

The scammer replied saying, “If you tried to contact my family in Dubai or Pakistan, I assure you that you will not get a penny back.

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“In addition, I also have many contacts in Melbourne and Brisbane who could very well host you.

Ms O’Brien told the ABC she then started playing nice, which led to the scammer sympathizing with her.

The scammer then told her he could put her in touch with the man behind the scheme who could refund her money.

Details about this man were sketchy and there was no evidence that he even existed or was involved in an elaborate scam.

«If you have strong connections like ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence service) or any other agency that can raid his house, then torture him and get your money back,» the scammer told Ms O’Brien.

Ms O'Brien tracked down her scammer's phone number and threatened him to try and get her money back

Ms O’Brien tracked down her scammer’s phone number and threatened him to try and get her money back

The fraudster agreed to be interviewed by the ABC in March but covered his face so he could not be identified.

He said he knew he had broken the law by allowing funds to be laundered through his company, but denied knowing it was a fraud, simply saying he «made a mistake».

He claimed he would repay Ms O’Brien $500,000, but neither has yet received a cent.

“If I had a little hint (that it was a hoax). I would never do that,” he said at the time.

The fraudster claimed to have been paid $13,000 to hand over his company’s bank account details.

Criminal charges were filed against one of the fraudsters involved, but were later dropped. No one was prosecuted in connection with the fraud.

It is understood the fraudster Ms O’Brien spoke to is now overseas.

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She said she had contacted the police several times about the fraud and that the victims had since launched legal action against the company.

Victoria Police said it had «passed available information about alleged overseas offenses with foreign partners through the Australian Federal Police – INTERPOL».

“If more information comes to light about crimes committed in Victoria, the investigation may reopen.

«Due to the ongoing civil proceedings in New South Wales, we are unable to comment further at this time.»



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