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Man Who Meticulously Saved for Retirement Loses All Over an Email Scam

Renato Calalang spent over 40 years working and saving up for his retirement which just vanished over an internet scam.
Cover Image Source: Representative Image | Pexels
Cover Image Source: Representative Image | Pexels

A father who was looking forward to retiring soon have fallen for a cruel scam, per NY Post. Renato Calalang put in a lot of effort over the last 40 years in a variety of positions to make sure he has the greatest life possible. Renato, 60, was adamant about saving every dollar to have a comfortable retirement. Renato was sure that after he retired, he and his family would have enough money because he had almost $150,000 saved up. All his ambitions were dashed when he got an email claiming to be from a bank in his native Philippines.

Image Source: Photo by cottonbro studio | pexels
Saving early has long-term benefits (representative image) | Photo by cottonbro studio | Pexels

Renato had moved to Australia from Manila in 1986 but still had many relatives back home, some he had never met. When he received a deceptive email informing him of an inheritance from a deceased relative, he didn't immediately dismiss it, given he had a large extended family in the Philippines. Regrettably, opening that email turned out to be Renato's gravest error.

“I got an email from someone called Steve Golds who said they were the owner of a bank in Manila,” the warehouse worker told “He said I was entitled to an inheritance of 3.8 million euros ($4.12 million) and I just needed to provide my details, which I did in my reply. "He even provided all the documents related to what he claimed was Renato's cousin, including a death certificate."

It felt plausible since Renato knew someone who shared the same name as the guy on the documents—a cousin. They informed him that to get his inheritance, he had to create a bank account in the Philippines. But he needed to deposit before he could do that. Since he was unable to send funds directly to that bank, they promised to help him through their agent in Australia. Then, using the same bank he used, he deposited into an account with Commonwealth Bank.

Saving for the future? Here are some finance trends that Gen Z follows to manage theirs. Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Pexels | Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Renato recalled that throughout the next three months, he continued to make the requested deposits, believing in good faith that he would soon receive his inheritance. He soon discovered that he was left with nothing. When Renato looks back, he realizes that it was a hoax. But at the time, it seemed so real, especially after he talked to a convincing-sounding scammer on the phone. Renato who had little money left reported what had transpired to his bank, Scamwatch and the police. Sadly, not much has changed in that regard.

“I was devastated. I went to the Commonwealth Bank for help in September 2023 and told them what happened,” Renato explained. “I told them what happened and they investigated the case. After two months, they told me I had been scammed. They said they could not recover the funds because the overseas bank would not cooperate.

This gave him a sense of security as if nothing negative could occur. He reasoned that he could contact Commonwealth Bank for assistance if something went wrong." "The person I spoke to was based in the Netherlands. I only talked to him once," Renato recalled. "He gave off a really convincing impression. Nothing seemed strange, and he had a calm demeanor."

Renato acknowledges that he was duped but he wishes his bank had taken precautions. "It should have raised suspicions to see that much money being withdrawn regularly," he expressed. "I wish they had alerted me about the scam. If they noticed a decrease in my account balance, something should have been done. Instead, they blamed me. Yet, the scammers have accounts with Commonwealth Bank." "I've been their customer for almost 40 years, but I feel like I was just treated as another statistic."

With little left, Renato finds himself starting over at 60. Supporting a family, he feels 'depressed' and 'anxious' about their future. "I've worked hard my whole life for this," he lamented. "I was hoping for a bright future and a peaceful retirement. But now, I'm living day by day. My financial security is gone, and my self-esteem is at an all-time low." "At this point, my family is what keeps me going."

Image Source: Photo by Kampus Production | pexels
Senior citizen scams are on the rise (representative image) | Photo by Kampus Production | Pexels

He shares his story to raise awareness and prevent others from falling victim to scams. He also hopes Commonwealth Bank can recover some of his funds. "I'm still trying to come to terms with what happened. Just thinking about being scammed makes me sick," he confessed. "I still hope the bank can retrieve some of my money if not all. I have to hold onto hope." "It's awful that criminals are targeting innocent people. I hope no one else experiences this."

A CBA spokesperson acknowledged the impact of scams on customers and urged vigilance. "We are aware of scams promising an inheritance or a share in a large sum of money," they stated. "CBA advises caution when asked to send money to unknown recipients. 'Stop. Check. Reject' any suspicious requests for payment." They confirmed attempts to recover Renato's funds were unsuccessful despite his multiple transfers.

For more information on protecting yourself from fraud and scams, visit