A couple who say they lost all their savings in a botched Commonwealth Bank transfer are in hiding after their emotional plea for help turned sour.
Ellie Houston, 21, and her partner Trae Murphy, 23, say they transferred $90,000 from their account to a bank melbourne counts June 30 before disappearing into thin air.
Ms Houston claimed in an interview with Radio 3AW on Monday that the money initially bounced back into their original account – before eventually disappearing completely.
They then appeared on television to try once again to recover the missing funds.
Sources told Daily Mail Australia the media blitz was recommended by the couple’s lawyer after exhausting all efforts to get answers from banks over the mysterious transaction.
Ellie Houston, 21, and her Trae Murphy, 23, say they transferred $90,000 from their account to a Bank of Melbourne account.
The consequences of these media appearances were evident on Thursday when the Daily Mail Australia attempted to speak with a broken Mr Murphy.
The shopkeeper’s parents said their son was so ill from the stress and anxiety of his ordeal that he could not get out of bed.
“Have money and all of a sudden it disappears. From the looks of it, he was scammed in some way,” his worried mother said.
“And to think people now think he’s the one lying.” It’s devastating.
The two men had saved a substantial amount of money to settle in Yarrawonga, a town near the NSW-Victoria border.
Ms Houston claimed she had screenshots and receipts showing money transferred between the two accounts, but Commonwealth Bank is refusing to reimburse them for the lost money.
The couple’s public campaign for answers quickly went pear-shaped, with sympathy turning to suspicion.
Armchair detectives kicked into high gear online as people openly speculated about what they think went wrong.
Sources close to the couple say that while the public campaign helped force the Commonwealth Bank to reconnect with them, they still have no answers as to where the money went or how to get it back.
“The Commonwealth said that once the money went into the account they wanted it in, the money was transferred to someone else’s account under a name they don’t even know,” said a source.
A Commonwealth Bank (CBA) spokesperson said it had investigated the claims and has since told Mr Murphy that the receipt numbers he provided “do not exist in CBA’s records “.
The couple were on a long-planned trip to Bali when their transfer from a CBA account bounced from the Bank of Melbourne “because both of their names weren’t approved yet”, Ms Houston told 3AW radio on Monday.
A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said it had investigated the couple’s claims and has since told Mr Murphy that the receipt numbers he provided “do not exist in the ABC’s files “.
“Upon review of the images of the receipts provided, the documents differ from the actual CBA receipts and the receipt numbers do not exist in the CBA records,” the spokesperson said.
The statement added: “Mr. Murphy states that his account balance should be $96,000. Following an investigation by CBA, we informed Mr Murphy:
“The account in question (or any other account held by Mr. Murphy) did not have a balance of $96,000 (or close to it) at the time of the relevant transfers or during the preceding 12 months.
“The account from which the transfers allegedly took place is a NetBank Saver which only allows transfers to another CBA account and is not able to process transfers to another financial institution.
“Subject to receiving further information from Mr Murphy, the CBA is prepared to carry out further investigations.”
Mr Murphy’s friends backed his account and took aim at cruel speculation suggesting he might be hiding some sort of secret gambling habit.
“Who in their right mind would spend $96,000 on a horse. It’s ridiculous,” a friend said.
The couple claim the Commonwealth Bank sent a link to Beyond Blue, a suicide prevention helpline, after they described the impact of missing money on her and her partner.
The friend said the couple only went public with the affair in a bid to get the bank talking again, in the hope of getting their savings back.
The couple was on a long-planned trip to Bali when their transfer from a The CBA account bounced with the Bank of Melbourne because “both of their names weren’t approved yet”, Ms Houston told 3AW radio on Monday.
The couple tried to transfer the $90,000 into the Bank of Melbourne account again on July 4, but the money bounced back into their account a few days later.
As they were on holiday in Bali at the time, the couple were unable to transfer the money internationally and were charged a late settlement fee of $2,500.
“They didn’t run away to Bali because of that. They went there for a wedding, so they had to go,” their friend said.
“They had already booked it before all this happened. Well before, it’s just a coincidence.
Ellie Houston, 21, and her Trae Murphy, 23, are desperate to recover their missing funds
The friend said the couple’s public plea was born out of pure desperation.
“They wanted help and answers because they weren’t getting any,” the friend said.
Those who know the hard-working couple insist they are victims of a terrible crime.
“Either it was hacked or the bank account was hacked,” the friend said.
Daily Mail Australia has learned Mr Murphy was working long hours to save for the couple’s dream property in Yarrawonga.
The money was all kept in a locked savings account which Mr Murphy is said to have opened at a real bank.
“These two worked hard. Something happened and they took advice from a lawyer to go talk to Neil Mitchell to move things forward,” a source said.
“They wanted to get things done and they did. And they received more information this week than in the last two months. And it helped them realize that they had been scammed.
The matter is expected to be referred to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority in the hope of finally reaching a resolution.
Concerned friends say Mr Murphy is so distraught over the missing money that he has closed himself off from those close to him.
“He’s not in a good place…and now it’s turned negative,” a friend said.