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Defrauded Australian woman Jo O’Brien confronts Pakistani scammer in bid to recover stolen $500K

Jo O'Brien scam news

After losing $500,000 to a sophisticated scam, Jo O’Brien, a recent divorcee, embarked on a relentless quest to confront the mastermind behind the fraudulent scheme and reclaim her funds.

In June 2022, following her divorce settlement, O’Brien invested half a million dollars into what she believed was a secure deposit account with AMP. However, she soon discovered she had fallen victim to scammers who deceived her into transferring the funds to an Australian bank account. From there, the money was quickly routed offshore and vanished without a trace.

A staff member from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia alerted O’Brien to the possibility of a scam, a revelation that left her devastated and tearful.

Investigations revealed that the scammers operated a small company in Melbourne, managing to defraud $1.7 million from nine victims. O’Brien, determined to retrieve her lost investment, managed to find the phone number of the 29-year-old company director responsible for her plight.

In a text message reported by ABC’s 7.30, O’Brien declared, “This is Jo O’Brien, the person from whom you stole $500,000. I will not relent until I recover my funds and/or destroy your lives… You picked the wrong target.”

O’Brien then misled the scammer, claiming she had hired a private investigator who had located his family and that she had ties with high-ranking officials in Pakistani intelligence, the scammer’s country of origin.

The scammer responded with a threat: “Should you attempt to contact my family in Dubai or Pakistan, you will not recover a single penny. Additionally, I have numerous contacts in Melbourne and Brisbane who could ‘accommodate’ you quite effectively.”

O’Brien shifted her strategy, adopting a more conciliatory approach, which seemed to elicit sympathy from the scammer. He then offered to connect her with the primary architect of the scam, promising a potential refund.

However, the details about this individual were vague and unconfirmed, casting doubt on his existence and involvement in the fraud.

The scammer advised O’Brien, “If you truly have powerful allies like ISI or other agencies capable of raiding his residence, then you could force him to return your money by any means necessary.”

The scammer, who agreed to an interview with ABC while concealing his identity, admitted to breaking the law by allowing his company’s bank account to be used for laundering the stolen funds, but denied knowing about the scam, claiming it was a mistake. He promised to return the $500,000 to Ms. O’Brien, although none of the victims have been reimbursed yet.

He was paid $13,000 for the use of his company’s account details. Despite criminal charges initially being filed against one of the scammers, those charges were later dropped, and no one has been prosecuted in connection to the scam. The scammer is now believed to be overseas.

O’Brien, having contacted the police several times regarding the scam, found that the victims have initiated a lawsuit against the company. Victoria Police stated that they have worked with international partners through the Australian Federal PoliceINTERPOL Bureau to advance the investigation of alleged offenses committed overseas.

They also mentioned that the investigation could be reopened if new evidence emerges. However, due to ongoing civil proceedings in New South Wales, the police are currently unable to provide further comment on the case.

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