Scams - They're out there

24 November 2023

I get emails daily promising something unbelievable, asking me to click on a link, or telling me I have a lost package and need to contact ‘Australia Post’.

Unfortunately, Australians got scammed to the tune of $3.1 billion last year and it’s only getting worse.

I’ve heard stories lately about customers of legitimate automotive businesses getting scammed by unscrupulous operators.

Here is how a scam might work, along with ways to protect yourself.

A scammer compromises a legitimate business’ email account. They can read emails sent and received by the business and can send emails from the account.

  • The scammer emails customers from the compromised email account requesting payment for something, like a deposit on a new car purchase.
  • The scammer provides their bank details rather than those of the trader or dealership.
  • The customer receives an invoice from the scammer and transfers money into the scammer’s bank account, instead of into the business’ account.
  • When the legitimate business notices it has not received monies owing, it might email another invoice to the customer.
  • The scammer sees this email and may send another notice to the customer, requesting even more money.
  • The invoices sent by the scammer appear identical to the genuine invoices, except for different bank account details.
  • As the scammer has access to the business email account, they know staff and customers’ names. The scam emails look like they’re personally addressed to the customer and signed off by the business.

If you receive an email requesting money and it feels wrong, call the business (don’t email) on a verified number and check the emails are real.

A legitimate business will do the right thing by you. Remember: knowledge is power.

Words: VACC CEO Geoff Gwilym. As published in the Herald Sun, 24 November 2023.

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