Wake up call as scams multiply

Wake up call as scams multiply

Boroondara residents are being urged to stay vigilant when dealing with unusual phone-calls, after an influx of phone scams preying on the elderly and unaware.

Photo by Jonas - Licensed under Creative Commons
Photo by Jonas
Licensed under Creative Commons

Hawthorn resident Michelle Murphy frequently receives calls on her landline, with scammers claiming to represent various companies. She was nearly conned into allowing a scammer posing as a Telstra technician online access to her computer but backed out at the last second. “He sounded very convincing, but once I realised what I was doing would give him complete access I told him I wasn’t comfortable with it, and hung up.”

More recently she’s received calls claiming she has unpaid tax, however her past experience has made her “more cautious now”.

ACCC initiative Scamwatch reports an increase in remote PC access scams, up over 50% in January this year compared to last. Several scammers are also reported to be posing as Australian Tax Office representatives, Telstra agents and even bank managers, in efforts to get information or money from victims.

Another resident, Allison Del’Oro, was harassed for over a week by multiple people claiming to be from the ATO with threats of police involvement if she didn’t pay up. Certain there were no legitimate problems she called the number they had left to “give them a piece of my mind”, only realising it was a scam when the number redirected to a strange voicemail.

“There’s a lot of elderly people living here,” she commented, “whilst I knew something was off with these calls they might not be so lucky.”

Victoria Police have also received multiple reports of people claiming to be from the ATO, stating the resident is being charged with tax evasion or similar. They request that residents hang up, do not take further calls or respond to any messages.

Some scammers have even utilised advanced call interception methods which require physical access to the local area. By advising their victims to call an authority to verify the misinformation provided by the scammer, then intercepting that call and posing as an authority, scammers have stolen over $5 million in the past six months.

Scams of all varieties make a multi-million dollar industry, harming the Australian economy and financially crippling the vulnerable. To report scams or find out more information visit Scamwatch.

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