CHOICE membership

Have you 'almost' been caught in a consumer scam?

Hello! I’m currently writing a feature for CHOICE on the Top 10 scams doing the rounds in Australia and I’d like to interview a consumer who has been a victim - or ALMOST a victim - of a scam.

Is this you? If so, please leave a comment below with a short explainer on the scam and your experience… and I’ll be in touch.

Thank you so much!

Kylie Matthews, journalist - CHOICE

6 Likes

Whilst I have not been caught out by a scam, I would nominate the very worst one as the disgusting Bitcoin scams which I have posted about frequently in this forum.

2 Likes

I don’t think I was almost scammed, but this one gave me pause. I received an email (gmail? hotmail?) using the name of a senior manager who was “in a meeting and on her phone” needing to urgently buy an iTunes voucher for her nephew’s birthday. I’d be fixed up later.

Knee jerk reaction was to comply, but something didn’t feel right. Why didn’t they use their work address? Why approach me and not someone closer? “Urgent”?

5 Likes

My mother, when she was in her 80s, took a phone call from someone who managed to get her to download an executable program to her computer. Thankfully she’s on a Mac so it didn’t get them very far. It still gives me a laugh when I think of the frustration the scammer went through.It would NOT have been an easy thing to do!
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how far you think you’ve driven the message home. I’m keeping her away from online shopping and banking, which feels like the wrong thing to do, but I worry she is too trusting.

8 Likes

Hi Kylie
I certainly feel like I have been scammed with my purchased of a rusted AEG oven which I bought in 2012. I have posted my experience under heading ‘AEG Combi Steam Oven, Rust hole on enamel base’.
This seems to be a recurring issue even before June 2012 when i purchased my oven. I have contacted several consumers willing to provide a statement about their experience. If this problem was already known to be an issue, that means I was being scammed?

3 Likes

Hi @bronwastaken - what a scary thing to have happened to your mother! I would very much like to chat to you about this experience to include in this CHOICE feature. Can you please private message me your email address so I can send through some questions for you to answer? Kylie Matthews.

4 Likes

If one is worried about a family member (such as a elderly parent or even a young child) allowing external access for someone to download an executable file (or to install an executable file from a website), with Windows one can set up the family member as a secondary account/user without administration rights. One can then set up so that this secondary user account has limited rights in relation to installing files or allowing third party access. It is very easy to do and can give piece of mind.

Even with our home PC, we have both an admin account and a secondary user account. The secondary user account is used for everything day to day…and admin only used for installing new software or updates which require admin rights.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/4026923/windows-10-create-a-local-user-or-administrator-account

4 Likes

My brother in law spent $6800 on a second hand tractor over the Internet. It was a very sophisticated Scam with a convincing website. Payment went through another fake “Escrow” and shipping site. He even got tracking updates for 10 days.

5 Likes

Nearest I got to being scammed was to follow up on a Facebook ‘officially posted advertisement’. Apparently, FB had - and still has - very little monitoring of whether or not paid advertisements come from actual suppliers of goods (or merely takers-of-money) and no monitoring of all on whether items which are paid for and supplied ‘actually work’.

I’ve never followed a single FB ad since.

I don’t know if it still happens - but a decade ago when I went to sell a car, I instantly got an offer via text to purchase the vehicle via PayPal. These are standard Nigerian “419” scams. I had suspicions; looked into it, most of the Australian car-selling websites have warnings. Cue is ‘don’t reply via text, send e-mail’. These are all scams. Next car I sold, two years later, I got 5 of the damn things.

Scamwatch is very good; a simple search usually finds it’s been identified.

6 Likes

Twice today I’ve had phone calls from what sound like Indian call centres notifying me that they’ve noticed suspicious activity on my account. In both cases they claimed to be calling not from a bank but some central Visa and Mastercard service and in both cases were initially just plausible enough to fool me into indirectly confirming that I bank with a particular institution. But then the questions continued and the smell of a rat became overwhelming and I didn’t give either any more information.
Why did I initially fall for the second call after hanging up on the first? Because the first left me with that niggling doubt that either they were actually for real (highly unlikely) or that they were already in possession of enough info to conduct a transaction and the second call was actually for real. In any case, they were convincing enough and worrying enough that someone less savvy or more vulnerable might easily be fooled into giving them all the information they were after. They even tried to blind me with techno-speak telling me that they were going to block the IP address of the person making the fraudulent transaction from accessing online banking so they couldn’t make another attempt. Seriously? Some central credit card monitoring service blocking IP addresses for my bank’s online system? I’d love to know the details of their setup to achieve that.

7 Likes

Yes. Back in March I ordered a cosmetics item from a Google sponsored ad posted by a company called NinthAvenue, as I couldn’t get the item from my usual sources. The item has never showed up. Follow ups by me have resulted in emails along the lines of “yeah, sorry, someone will get back to you” but of course they never do. The phone number connects to a voicemail and again of course one never receives a response. Belated research (Trustpilot) showed this company is likely a scam company based in India. I have requested a refund from my credit card institution. Worst online shopping experience ever.

2 Likes

I was ‘almost’ scammed a few days ago, via an unsolicited phone call.
Not a Consumer Scam (I wasn’t asked to buy something) but a scam to harvest my private files and passwords.
It’s not the first time these people have called, but I usually just hang up. This time I wasted their time a little to see what they were doing.
What they want to do is gain uncontrolled access to my computer.
How.
I answer a phone call from what appears to be an Australian number. It is almost certainly spoofed (like a false sender address on the back of an envelope).
It’s a well spoken voice, possibly Indian, who enquires after my health.
Then warns me there is unusual activity coming from my modem.
Me: Oh no! What do I do?
Him: Do you have any devices connected to it?
Me: Yes, a computer.
Him: Please sit in front of it and turn it on.
(Excellent instructions, btw. He is patient every time I claim to mke a mistake)
Me: OK
Him: What is the key next to the Control Key?
(He does this so he can work out type of computer. I use a Mac, which he worked out)
Him: Open Safari or Chrome.
Me: Ok, Safari is open.
Him: In the address bar at the top of the page, type this (he spells out www.anydesk.com)
He tells me to click the Free Download button.
It will download an installer which will give him full access to my computer. I tell him I’m unable to do this, and we are cut off at that point, probably by a supervisor who monitors all the calls.

This is dangerous because it sounds plausible, and is so simply done.

Once in it would take him less than a minute to download stuff. Or he would induce me authorise him to install keystroke loggers which would report log in details for bank accounts etc.
It’s called social engineering.

3 Likes

I had someone call from what appeared to be an Australian landline, saying I owed money to the tax department because I had only paid tax ‘in the half amount’ for the period 2014-2017. He said they had already sent me two letters, and that there was now a warrant in my name. If I didn’t immediately pay $1872 dollars, the local police would come to my house in 45 minutes and I would be taken into custody for 72 hours at the ‘community court house’ and have to appear before a judge the following day. I knew it was a scam and wrote down everything he said. I asked him his name, and he told me ‘Richard Parker’, and also gave me his ‘badge ID number’ and my ‘case file number’. I told him that I needed to ring my husband to tell him that I would be going to gaol - the caller sounded confused, and reiterated his threat, adding that the penalty for not paying would be $8000-9000. I said okay but I needed to let my family know where I would be taken. Eventually the caller became frustrated and just hung up. At that very moment the doorbell rang, and I nearly jumped out of my skin. But it was a delivery of flowers from our children: our dear old dog had died the day before.

3 Likes

I fell into the Viagogo trap. We wanted to see Michael Buble in Sydney, so Googled bookings. Of course, guess who was at the top? Viagogo.

It was just sheer carelessness on my part. The “tickets” cost nearly 3 times what they would have on Ticketek, and were in someone elses name ! I was told by Viagogo this was quite OK, that they were unwanted tickets being resold.

I enquired with the promotors whether these possibly dud tickets would allow admission on the night, but they would not assist. Understandable I guess.

We decided we could not take the risk, so I swallowed my anger and bought legitimate tickets from the authorised outlet.

I put the Viagogo tickets up for sale again at a discount rate, then discovered that it may be illegal to do this in NSW !

I did not contact Fair Trading because (too late) I found many many warnings about Viagogo, so, with embarrassment, decided it was all my own silly fault

3 Likes

After what seemed to be the 100th call from ‘Nicole’ to tell me that my landline was going to be disconnected unless I connected to NBN, I hit the buttons to go through to the next step. I was transferred to a ‘technician’ who then transferred me to his ‘supervisor’ to further advise me. At that point I told him that I was aware this was a scam and then I hung up. Five minutes later he rang back and abused me. I hung up. He then called every five minutes or so for hours. I actually don’t use the landline so turned the phone off but I admit I was surprised at the response.

3 Likes

Last year, I ordered FREE face creams to try and found myself in a monthly ordering system where they deducted money from my credit card (which was provided for the postage & handling)
I contacted the company and my bank to have the transactions reversed. Thankfully I got my money back.

No matter how lucrative the offer appears i don’t order FREE anything online - the old saying nothing is really free is true!

5 Likes

Kylie, my mum and dad (88 and 94 y.o. )nearly gave up $5k to a very persistent phone scammer.

It was only nipped in the bud when they went to their (Bendigo) bank on a Saturday morning to make the foreign transaction and the teller asked a few pertinent questions …

It’s a good story!

Regards.

Malcolm Pryor.

1 Like

Whilst we don’t receive scam calls theses days, my responses to previous ones were usually very successful as per my post in another topic in this forum.

It looks like the I’m from Telstra and this call is to help you with a serious problem is still very popular.

I had a call mid afternoon on Thursday from a foreign accepted competent English speaker.

  • The lady informed me she was calling from Telstra technical support.
  • There was a very serious problem with our internet service.
  • She said that she should correct it, and that it would not take very long.
  • The problem was that there were lots of other people using my internet connection and it was important to stop this happening.
  • Alarm bells - panic.
  • Logic says it’s not likely. We are not Telstra customers for internet.
  • When asked to provide further details to verify they were genuine all the lady could do was repeat the home line phone number.
  • I tried several other tests asking for employee ID, and a call back identity, so that I could call the Telstra Tech support 1300 number I have.
  • All I got was a number starting with a 2! and repeated requests that it would only take her ten minutes to fix.
  • I hung up.
  • She rang back.
  • I advised her we don’t use Telstra.
  • She said we did.
  • I hung up.
  • She rang back and had a polite go at me for hanging up and making the problem worse.
  • She then transferred me to a male manager who started the same line.
  • I told him we don’t use Telstra and the only account we have had is a business account, to which I asked him for the account number for the service we were on.
  • He replied by saying it starts with 2000.
  • I hung up, then turned the modem off, and went back outside to more important things.

It was likely a scam from the first line. Most definitely the second. Of course being rural our local exchange is Telstra, but not our ISP.

It is a Right Royal PITA when such persistence is encountered. And having had Credit Card problems twice in the prior 5 years, where the bank/card provider has initiated a call, the procedure for calling them back from a number I can independent source has always been accommodated. Never use the phone number provided by the caller, never!

I tried several other put offs. The callers were very calm and insistent. I can imagine there are those with less awareness they are seeking out.

Until our Mum moved into an aged care facility, she had regular similar calls. Fortunately her poor hearing, and lack of NBN knowledge saved her. When the NBN came we put off conversion to the last, then did the deal for her. We used her old push button Telstra Phone and said she did not have the NBN but a Pensioner calls only bill option. It worked!

2 Likes

I rely very much on scamwatch.gov.au
They’re not across ‘everything’ but they’re pretty good.

Every bit of suspicious advertising/approaches/phone calls - I visit them. Some dodgy advertising so far has come from/through FaceBook.

1 Like