A Victorian bank teller saved an elderly woman from losing thousands of dollars after she became suspicious of the woman’s plans to send money to a man she met on Tinder.

It didn’t take long for NAB Wheelers Hill bank manager Randi Dias to suspect something was wrong when Sue*, aged in her 80s, walked into the bank.

The woman had $10,000 in cash and a piece of paper with some account details written down, and claimed the money was to pay for painting on her house in Victoria.

Newsletters: Breaking news as it happens. Subscribe now Subscribe now

But a quick check of the details revealed the account belonged to a bus driver in WA.

Alarm bells rang for Dias, who tried to get some further details about where the money was actually going.

“The customer was very open and chatty, and told us about her boyfriend of 12 months who she met on Tinder but hadn’t yet met face-to-face,” she said.

Sue showed Dias WhatsApp messages between the pair, confirming the teller’s suspicions — the elderly woman had been caught up in a scam.

“The scammer knew all the tricks and their text messages were all about creating a feeling of social connection, which is exactly what people on dating apps like Tinder are often looking for,” Dias said.

The man told Sue he was an oil rig worker in Malaysia who had been locked out of his Australian bank accounts and needed help accessing money so he could get back into the country.

When Dias told Sue she believed it was a scam, the elderly woman was initially embarrassed but thankful she hadn’t become a victim.

Alarms bells went off for NAB Wheelers Hill bank manager Randi Dias. Credit: NAB

Dias said telling Sue what was really going on was “heartbreaking”.

“I’m so grateful we were able to help Sue, and she didn’t lose her money,” she said.

NAB customer reports of romance scams increased by 29 per cent from last year, while Scamwatch estimates Australians lost $40 million to romance scams in 2023.

Australians older than 55 suffered the highest individual losses that year.

NAB group investigations executive Chris Sheehan said romance scams can have a “devastating impact”, with people of all ages, genders and demographics targeted.

“While many Aussies now start long and successful relationships online, it is vital to know how to recognise a potential partner from a scammer,” he said.

“Romance and friendship scams reinforce the need for a co-ordinated, national approach to the scam epidemic, given many start on dating apps, social media platforms or messaging apps.”

* Sue is not the elderly woman’s real name