After taking out loans to pay off scammers, Katrina is now wary of talking to strangers online

This is my story

Katrina and her son Dan were caught in a scam a few years ago. They took out personal loans to give to people they met online.

Eventually, they were stuck with substantial debts that they couldn’t pay off.

“There were two people living overseas who both asked for lots of money. I used my credit cards and talked my son Dan into helping as well. We were promised large amounts of money. It’s a stupid thing.

“I asked the banks for personal loans, but I didn’t give a reason why I needed these large amounts of money.

“I felt that I couldn’t speak to anybody about it because I felt so ashamed, at my age to be conned into giving lots of money to people and then expecting to get something out of it.

Katrina was referred to Way Forward by CommBank.

“I got involved with Way Forward because I was having trouble in making the repayments for the credit cards, as well as the Commonwealth Bank and the ANZ loans that I had taken out.

“It got too much so we stopped giving the scammers money, but I still had these loans and these credit cards to pay off.

“We never got anything back from the scam.”

It’s easy to fall prey to scams

Katrina says that the scam began with a person sending her a message on WhatsApp and said their name happened to be the same as Katrina’s.

“I thought we had become friends.

“The woman told my son Daniel to pay money to different people all over the world. She said this will help them to pay something off, and they promised to give it back.

“We became suspicious because they constantly asked for money and promised that we were going to get money back, always after one more payment. This went on and on so Daniel decided to stop paying money.

“In the beginning, I was wanting to be friends with everybody because that’s my nature. Then, my sons warned me that I cannot be friends with everybody. Now I’m extremely wary.

If somebody on Facebook or Instagram asked me to be friends with them, I now think that I don’t know this person, and I delete. I don’t want to be friends with anybody because of what I had put my son and myself through.

“It was all because I wanted to be friends with people.” 

Completing a debt repayment plan

“Every week when I received my pay, I would leave aside the amount of money to contribute to my repayment plan with Way Forward, which was $81.07.

“I always made sure that the money was there and that it was never going to be touched because I didn’t want to miss a payment. I wanted to finish paying it off all together.

“I started in 2020 and finished last week.”

Katrina says that now she budget’s every week and it’s made easier by having paid off her debts.

“I get paid once a week from my job from Coles. From my wages, I work out how much to put money aside for bills or petrol or insurance, then use what I need for those expenses from a smart access account. Then, whatever money I do not use, I put that into a net saver and that money will build up every week.

“Since my husband died nine months ago, my son and I are living by ourselves, so we pay the house bills.”

“Then, when I need to utilise the money in that net saver account for things like car repairs or bills, then I shift it from one account to the other. When the money I’ve saved is gone, I start saving again and transfer money to the net saver.

Katrina says that her future is looking better.

“I promised myself that I would never get into that bad situation again. I’m going to make sure that everything will work out this time, a lot better than it has in the past.

“The Way Forward team are very kind. I could not have done this all without assistance from Way Forward. I can’t speak highly enough of them.

“If you’re in the same situation as me, you must get out of it, try asking for help and support somewhere.”

By Rachel Ryan

Rachel is a policy and communications specialist with over a decade of experience working in government, education and not-for-profit organisations. She is grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Way Forward’s clients to assist them in sharing their story on their terms, in a way that is empowering and uplifting.

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