Family ‘gobsmacked’ over mother’s $280k Westpac withdrawals

Family ‘gobsmacked’ over mother’s $280k Westpac withdrawals
  • PublishedJune 3, 2024

The family of an elderly woman with dementia has been left stunned to learn she was able to withdraw over $NZ305,000 ($280,000) in cash from a Westpac branch.

They alleged that staff members assisted the 89-year-old to make the transactions over a period of 34 months before she died.

In total, she made 70 teller-assisted withdrawals between September 2017 to July 2020.

The withdrawals were made with the help of staff at Westpac Masterton in the North Island of New Zealand, a fact the woman’s daughters became aware of when looking at her bank statements after her death.

One of the woman’s daughters told the New Zealand Herald she had made the bank aware of her dementia in February 2020, and a note was added to her file stating she was a vulnerable customer and to take care with any large/unusual transactions.

However she was still able to make $NZ50,0000 ($46,000) in five teller-assisted cash withdrawals before her passing.

Her daughter said she “knew something was off” about her mother prior to her death. She had made comments about “people fleecing her for money” and had become angry.

It’s a mystery what the woman, who had died on 30 July 2020, spent her money on as her family said she lived frugally. They said she carried $100 notes around.

“I was gobsmacked,” the woman’s daughter told the NZ Herald.

“This is just bank withdrawals. So it doesn’t include paying utilities, paying her credit card, anything like that, and they didn’t query it at all.

“She had no mortgage on her house. She had her car paid off. What the hell did they think she was spending the money on?”

Westpac has denied any wrongdoing, saying the woman was “confident and savvy with money”, however she was private about her finances and staff “ultimately acted on her instructions in processing the withdrawals”.

On one occasion, the woman had forgotten to being a handbag but was astonishingly given her an envelope that was estimated to be 8 centimetres thick stuffed with $NZ23,000 ($21,000).

Her daughter recalls accompanying her mother to the bank at the time however she didn’t know the amount she was taking out, but did remember the teller stating it was a large amount of money.

In May 2019, she made her biggest cash withdrawal of $NZ24,000 ($22,000). That month saw more than $NZ60,000 ($55,000) in cash taken from her account.

Her family, who lodged a formal complaint with the bank this year, want to know what checks the bank made before they continually gave her huge amounts of money.

They claim that Westpac failed in its duty of care to the vulnerable, elderly customer.

They also believe she was the victim of financial elder abuse, as they cannot track more than $NZ200,000 ($184,000).

“I can’t prove it but the money is missing. And the $NZ23,000 ($21,000) she withdrew three weeks before she died, that was gone from her house.”

A woman withdrew a huge amount of cash before her death. Picture: iStock

A woman withdrew a huge amount of cash before her death. Picture: iStock

When confronted by the daughter about why they were handing over so much cash to her mother, Westpac staff allegedly said they were “too scared” to ask her what the money was for”.

“I was like, ‘What the hell’,” the daughter told the NZ Herald.

“She was 89, she was fragile. She was like 48kg, she was this tiny little woman. I mean come on.

“She didn’t bite but she was feisty. She had this presence about her and as the dementia got worse she got feistier.”

Despite the police being contacted to investigate a person of interest the case was closed when there was no proof they had taken the money.

A complaint has also been made to the New Zealand Banking Ombudsman.

Westpac has denied any wrongdoing. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard

Westpac has denied any wrongdoing. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard

A Westpac spokesperson told news.com.au that staff asked the woman the purpose of the case withdrawal “on several occasions”.

“However she was very private about her finances, which was acknowledged by her daughter … and our staff ultimately acted on her instructions in processing the withdrawals,” the spokesperson said.

She had said she was unsure when she would be able to visit the bank next, when asked about the last $21,000 withdrawal, and staff felt “comfortable” presenting the cash in an envelope due to her daughter accompanying her.”

“We empathise with this family following the death of their mother, and have thoroughly investigated their concerns about her banking activity over several years,” the spokesperson said.


The family of an elderly woman with dementia has been left stunned to learn she was able to withdraw over $NZ305,000 ($280,000) in cash from a Westpac branch.

They alleged that staff members assisted the 89-year-old to make the transactions over a period of 34 months before she died.

In total, she made 70 teller-assisted withdrawals between September 2017 to July 2020.

The withdrawals were made with the help of staff at Westpac Masterton in the North Island of New Zealand, a fact the woman’s daughters became aware of when looking at her bank statements after her death.

One of the woman’s daughters told the New Zealand Herald she had made the bank aware of her dementia in February 2020, and a note was added to her file stating she was a vulnerable customer and to take care with any large/unusual transactions.

However she was still able to make $NZ50,0000 ($46,000) in five teller-assisted cash withdrawals before her passing.

Her daughter said she “knew something was off” about her mother prior to her death. She had made comments about “people fleecing her for money” and had become angry.

It’s a mystery what the woman, who had died on 30 July 2020, spent her money on as her family said she lived frugally. They said she carried $100 notes around.

“I was gobsmacked,” the woman’s daughter told the NZ Herald.

“This is just bank withdrawals. So it doesn’t include paying utilities, paying her credit card, anything like that, and they didn’t query it at all.

“She had no mortgage on her house. She had her car paid off. What the hell did they think she was spending the money on?”

Westpac has denied any wrongdoing, saying the woman was “confident and savvy with money”, however she was private about her finances and staff “ultimately acted on her instructions in processing the withdrawals”.

A family is baffled after learning about the huge amounts of money their mother withdrew before her death. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

A family is baffled after learning about the huge amounts of money their mother withdrew before her death. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

On one occasion, the woman had forgotten to being a handbag but was astonishingly given her an envelope that was estimated to be 8 centimetres thick stuffed with $NZ23,000 ($21,000).

Her daughter recalls accompanying her mother to the bank at the time however she didn’t know the amount she was taking out, but did remember the teller stating it was a large amount of money.

In May 2019, she made her biggest cash withdrawal of $NZ24,000 ($22,000). That month saw more than $NZ60,000 ($55,000) in cash taken from her account.

Her family, who lodged a formal complaint with the bank this year, want to know what checks the bank made before they continually gave her huge amounts of money.

They claim that Westpac failed in its duty of care to the vulnerable, elderly customer.

They also believe she was the victim of financial elder abuse, as they cannot track more than $NZ200,000 ($184,000).

“I can’t prove it but the money is missing. And the $NZ23,000 ($21,000) she withdrew three weeks before she died, that was gone from her house.”

A woman withdrew a huge amount of cash before her death. Picture: iStock

A woman withdrew a huge amount of cash before her death. Picture: iStock

When confronted by the daughter about why they were handing over so much cash to her mother, Westpac staff allegedly said they were “too scared” to ask her what the money was for”.

“I was like, ‘What the hell’,” the daughter told the NZ Herald.

“She was 89, she was fragile. She was like 48kg, she was this tiny little woman. I mean come on.

“She didn’t bite but she was feisty. She had this presence about her and as the dementia got worse she got feistier.”

Despite the police being contacted to investigate a person of interest the case was closed when there was no proof they had taken the money.

A complaint has also been made to the New Zealand Banking Ombudsman.

Westpac has denied any wrongdoing. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard

Westpac has denied any wrongdoing. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard

A Westpac spokesperson told news.com.au that staff asked the woman the purpose of the case withdrawal “on several occasions”.

“However she was very private about her finances, which was acknowledged by her daughter … and our staff ultimately acted on her instructions in processing the withdrawals,” the spokesperson said.

She had said she was unsure when she would be able to visit the bank next, when asked about the last $21,000 withdrawal, and staff felt “comfortable” presenting the cash in an envelope due to her daughter accompanying her.”

“We empathise with this family following the death of their mother, and have thoroughly investigated their concerns about her banking activity over several years,” the spokesperson said.

“This customer was a frequent visitor to our Masterton branch and would regularly withdraw sums of cash that were well within her financial means.”

Senior Sergeant Gareth Barnes said police made inquiries after being notified about the withdrawals, speaking to the woman’s family and those close to her as well as looking at CCTV of the withdrawals. However, they were unable to identify who received it and the case was closed.

Australians lost a combined $2.7 billion to scams in 2023 which is down from $3.15 billion in 2022.

SOURCE: NEWS.COM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *