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Scammer pretends to investigate scams

Geoff Helisma |

Unsuspecting people are being targeted by a scam where a person rings and pretends to be a representative of, for example, Telstra, NBN Co or Microsoft, and asks for access to their internet account.

A Yamba woman contacted the Independent to share her experience and warn others to be wary.

“I had a call from a woman who said her name was Virginia,” she said.
“She said, ‘I’m calling to tell you that a scammer is trying to access your internet account.’
“She asked me to turn on whatever device I am using and then to access the internet.
“I said, ‘I’m no not going to do that, I don’t know who you are,’ and hung up.
“She rang back a few minutes later and tried again.
“I said, ‘I’ll get in touch with Telstra and confirm with them that this is really happening.’”

The Yamba woman said she had reported the incident and passed the number on to Telstra – 0899 642 334.
The Independent called the number, however, it was not connected.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has an entry on this particular scam (and other similar scams) on its website:

The Coffs Clarence Local Area Command (LAC) also issued a statement, titled ‘COMPUTER / iTUNES SCAM’, on its Facebook page on Friday morning May 4.
“Coffs/Clarence Police District residents have reported a number of frauds recently involving buying iTunes gift cards to pay fraudsters off,” the post stated.

While the Yamba woman did not speak long enough to the scammer to find out if it was an iTunes scam, the Coffs Clarence LAC warned that the ‘Catch-a-hacker scam’ involves: “Scammers pretending to be [from] Telstra [who] will ask their victim to help them catch a ‘hacker’ who’s trying to get into their PC or smart devices.
“They’ll use this sham story to get the victim to buy iTunes cards as a ‘trap’ for catching the hacker.
“Unfortunately the scammer will quickly get the serial numbers for those gift cards and sell them before the victim realises they’ve been duped.”

The ACCC warns that the iTunes scammers also masquerade as officers from the Australian Tax Office and Centrelink – each scam has a similar pitch.
There are also scammers who “try to talk you into buying unnecessary software or a service to ‘fix’ the computer, or they may ask you for your personal details and your bank or credit card details”, the ACCC website states.
There are numerous current reports by various publications around the country telling stories about people who have been conned by this and other similar scams.

“This scam particularly targets older residents so please discuss this with anyone you know who may be susceptible to the fraudsters,” the Coffs Clarence LAC advises.
“Amounts of $1,000 to $5,000 being spent on iTunes gift cards are not uncommon.
“Businesses that sell iTunes gift cards are encouraged to inform their staff about these scams so that they can help warn customers and even question any customers spending large amounts of money on iTunes gift cards.”

According to the ACCC, during 2017 up until September 11, “1,236 people lost nearly $540,000 to scammers using gift cards as payments”.In the 2015-16 financial year losses were about $480,000.

“Scammers are increasingly getting their victims to pay with iTunes gift cards as they can quickly on-sell them and pocket the money,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said in the September 2017 media release.