Laptop computer

Police are urging people to be wary of online scams after a 74-year-old Hawthorn woman recently lost more than $46,000 to an organised overseas network.

The woman was contacted by an overseas scammer by phone, who claimed to work for a major telco.

An unknown man told the woman she had been the victim of a scam and, in order to help fix the issue, he would transfer her to speak with the company’s management team.

While speaking to the victim, the offenders gained remote access to the woman’s computer and online banking.

They told the woman they had deposited money into her account to ‘help fix her security’ and requested she withdraw that money and send it via MoneyGram to various bank accounts in India.

The offenders also requested the victim withdraw cash, buy iTunes gift cards and relay the gift card codes over the phone in order to ‘fix her security problem’.

Under the scammers’ direction, the victim bought more than 330 iTunes gift cards from major supermarkets and retail outlets.

Yarra Crime Investigation Unit Detective Senior Constable Cameron Mitchell said the attack took place over seven days.

The offenders made transfers of cash between the victim’s three bank accounts in order to confuse her and make it look like the balance of her account was increasing, he said.

The victim believed she was transferring the telco’s money to the overseas accounts when in fact the money was her own.

Victorians are urged to report any scams of this nature to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network at www.acorn.gov.au and to ensure they do not buy any vouchers.

The Federal government also provides a website which offers proactive advice for people who have been the victim of a scam: www.scamwatch.gov.au.

Anyone with information about the scam is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

What are scams?

Scams are designed to trick you into giving away your money or your personal details. They may come in many forms:

  • Mail
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Door-to-door

How to protect yourself

  • Be alert that scams exist.
  • Never send money, give credit card, bank account or other personal details to anyone who makes unsolicited offers or requests information.
  • Gift cards/vouchers are not alternate forms of currency for any company, organisation or brand other than their own.
  • If in doubt, check if requests or offers are genuine by looking up phone numbers in independent directories or contacting Consumer Affairs Victoria or SCAMwatch.

For further information and assistance contact SCAMwatch on 1300 302 502 or scamwatch.gov.au