Jim Marinis and Mary-Jane Daffy, a couple who are small business owners in Melbourne, have lost $40,000 from suspected fraudulent bank transactions, after their personal data was stolen.

The fraudsters have taken out $40,000 from their bank account via teller withdrawals, following an avalanche of identity theft.

Marinis told Neos Kosmos that the cyber criminals have also racked up $20,000 more debt in personal loans taken out online in their name while they have also applied for a $200,000 loan on top of a business overdraft attempt claiming to be him.

Initially, the bank fraud case was connected with the Optus identity theft saga as the Greek Australian businessman had been informed by the telecommunications company that his data had been compromised following the company’s data breach in September, but it turns out the two are completely unrelated.

“I want to make it clear that my predicament is not related with the Optus case. I have been explaining this all along. I did receive an email like so many people regarding the Optus breach but what happened to me is a different story. Optus have been really helpful,” he explained. “They have been calling me every day for updates on my situation.”

Unfortunately, the fraudsters, who according to the police are Melbourne based and quite experienced created a spider’s net so extensive as they hacked Mr Marini’s personal accounts one after the other that he lost three weeks of his life to emotional distress.

“Four bank accounts opened up with my tax file number. They have hacked my MyGov accounts. They have applied for a different number… My medical card’s been tampered with. My office account, my Vodafone accounts,” he added.

“It was a snowball effect. When we realised what was going on it ran so deep that no matter what we did to stop it we felt trapped. We had to sit and watch our money being taken and could do nothing about it.”

As Marinis told Neos Kosmos, the fraudulent activity began on 20 October. With so many business-related bills and expenses coming out on a regular basis, the couple did not realise that something suspicious was going on until the end of the month.

“I bought another house and was working on the settlement at the time. When I realised that all my money was missing it was actually 29 October. So then and there we called the banks up. And then the banks realised the whole trace of money going out from everywhere.

Marinis, who says he is lucky to have a great support network, wants to warn others who might find themselves in this situation and are not aware of what steps to take.

“The police are on their tracks and we are currently waiting for the CSI to arrest them. After so many weeks of stress and a breakdown inside the police station all I want is to help people who might not be as fortunate as I am to have a great accountant or a business that affords me to pay my immediate, daily bills,” he said.

“Every day I think to myself ‘What if I was a person working 9 to 5 that has all their savings in a bank account and don’t have cash anywhere? What if I woke up with nothing in my name and had a family, kids to feed and no idea what to do about it?'”

The café owner argued that Australia needs a government body to help stop the transactions especially when it comes to credit, not just a call centre that blocks bank accounts and leaves people in limbo.

“For me, the issue is being resolved quicker due to the publicity my case has gotten, even though I have to start over and reissue everything. It’s still costing me a lot but I don’t want the point of this story to be ‘Oh poor Daffy and Marinis were victims of fraud. I want the system to be more vigilant and whatever information I have to be shared so that no one else has to go through what we are going through.”

“Be on top of your accounts. Check regularly. Use different emails for banking and ask questions as soon as something feels off. Don’t wait. Freeze your accounts… Update your Medicare, passport, license. Go to the police. Be vigilant.”