This is my second article on scams and I don’t like to harp, but sadly I have met with two clients who were victims of scams during December 2020.
Client 1 who I will refer to as Jane received an email for renewal of a newsletter she subscribes to through her company. Interestingly the subscription is usually paid in December each year. Jane clicked the link in the email which took her another screen to authorise payment similar to previous subscription renewals. Jane authorised payment of $159.95 for the annual subscription and didn’t think anything of it. Then the website came up with an error stating that the payment hadn’t processed and she needed to authorise payment again, which Jane did. Then a message came up again saying that there was still a problem with the payment and Jane needed to authorise renewal again. At this stage Jane got suspicious and checked the company bank account. Jane was shocked to discover that the first renewal attempt, $1,700 was taken out of the bank account. The 2nd renewal attempt resulted in a further $3,000 being taken.
Jane immediately contacted her financial institution. They launched an investigation and it was found that the money was transferred to a bank account in Russia, with little to no hope of recovery. The financial institution also advised Jane that they were not liable for the loss since Jane authorised the transactions. Jane has contacted the police and the financial ombudsman. I will keep you appraised of her progress.
The research I did recommends never clicking a link in an email. Instead go directly to the official website of the organisation through your internet browser and arrange your renewal there. If still not convinced, call the organisation directly to confirm payment is due.
Client 2 who I will refer to as Rita, received a phone call claiming her NBN was going to be cut off. Interestingly Rita had only had the NBN put on some 6 months ago and was experiencing connectivity problems. The caller requested that to ‘help her’ retain her NBN connection she needed to give details about her computer, which unfortunately Rita provided. She believes that someone then took over her computer remotely, was able to access her online banking since she had saved her password. They were able to access her personal account and withdraw the balance of $8,000. Fortunately she has another bank account with more substantial money in it, but this is not online. This is now a police matter, but the likelihood of recovery is poor. The bank is also denying liability in this case as well
I think many of us would have received a similar phone call and the best option is to hang up. If you think it may be genuine, then you should contact your internet provider directly on their official phone numbers. I also recommend not saving your passwords online.
Of course if you are suspicious about any correspondence/communications you receive, please contact us as we are here to help and protect you.
This article appeared in our May 2021 newsletter. The author is Peter Gill.