Right away, I knew from the look on my aunty’s face that she had been scammed.
“Does the internet company ever call people to tell them they have a virus on their computer?” she had asked.
When I replied with an emphatic “no, never, it’s a scam, always hang up,” her face dropped.
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That’s when I realised she hadn’t hung up.
No, instead, she’d fallen victim to the scammers, who had called her at home on a Thursday morning, telling her that they were calling from her internet provider, and that her computer was compromised by viruses.
My aunty is 72-years-old. Computers and the internet are as foreign to her as Vietnamese pho.
It turns out she’d spent 45-minutes on the phone with them, had handed over complete remote access to her computer, when they demanded $700 to “fix” the problem. She finally clicked that maybe something wasn’t right, and refused to pay. That’s when they shut down her computer.
She’s since called an IT specialist and is without access to her computer.
All become some scammers victimised her in her own home. It’s an outrage!
It’s not only the elderly that are falling for these tricks, either. A Brisbane woman, Anna Callinan, was almost scammed out of “tens of thousands of dollars” when a scammer accessed her emails and demanded payment of an invoice – to a brand new account.
The invoice wasn’t overdue, so Anna parked the email. When they contacted her again a few days later, she rang her supplier to confirm that they genuinely wanted the invoice paid to a different account.
That’s when she realised she’d been scammed, and hacked.
“We changed the password and we’re not out of pocket financially, but it’s pretty darn frightening someone can get into your email,” she told News.com.au.
“I have no idea how they got in — I need to speak to my IT guy — but I have virus protection and everything that I should have, so how they got into my email I do not know.”
These scams are sophisticated, so if you suspect you’re being taken for a ride, here’s a guide from Scamwatch about what you should do.
And remember the golden rule: wherever they say they are calling from, ask for their name and tell them you’ll call them back. If it’s genuine, they won’t mind. If it’s a scam, you’ll quickly know about it.