Motorists are being warned that thousands of Australians are falling victim to brutal scams that start with a text asking to pay an outstanding toll.
The scam targets users of Linkt and other e-tags – small plastic devices that attach to windshields and automatically record tolls – which operate across Australia.
The text claims that a toll, usually just a few dollars, has not been charged and asks the recipient to pay through a website to avoid additional incurring charges.
But the website is fake looking and has a web address almost identical to the real site, and once credit card details are entered, scammers are quick to empty bank accounts.
Catherine Arrowsmith (pictured) was robbed for $8,000 after being paid a small $5 toll fine after getting a text
1. Transurban, owner of Linkt, and the NSW government’s E-toll said they will never text asking for payment, so ignore them and block the number.
2. Never click on a link in a text message or email to navigate to the Linkt or E-toll websites, but enter the address manually or use the app.
3. Ignore any messages that don’t look legitimate, for example with a bad spelling or from a foreign number or that contain strange links.
Young mother Catherine Arrowsmith said she double checked the website and it looked legit, but was soon robbed for thousands.
“About two weeks later they went and spent about $8,000 in Victoria and I live in NSW,” she told A current matter.
She is angry that her bank has not flagged the unusual transactions and has not blocked her card.
“They haven’t discontinued the cards. The transactions were for $2,500, another $900 at Coles and another $900 at Woolies.’
“I don’t think I’ve ever spent $900 on Coles,” she said.
Retired Andrew Engel, 74, is in a similar situation, except he stole $11,000 in a series of smaller transactions of exactly $1,000 at the same Kmart store.
“I go to bed at night, that’s the last thing on my mind, it’s the first thing I think of when I wake up because it’s such a big amount,” he said.
His bank also did not stop the card, despite the transactions being highly unusual for the decades-long customer.
Linked e-tag (left) customers are targeted by the scam text (right)
While Ms Arrowsmith got about three quarters of her money back through dispute resolution with her bank, Mr Engels’s attempt was beaten back and he remains out of pocket.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said tens of thousands of Aussies were affected by the scam.
E-toll, owned by the NSW government, and Transurban, owner of Linkt, which constructs and owns toll roads nationally, said they will never send text messages asking for payments, so users should ignore such text messages.
We will never ask you to answer an email or text message with your financial or personal information. If we need you to manage your account, we will always direct you to log into your account directly at linkt.com.au or the Linkt app.
Our Cyber Security Operations team works with telecommunications providers to identify and block phone numbers that send these text messages. We reported nearly 2,000 unique scam messages to telecom providers so they can block them and protect our customers and the Australian public.
These scam texts are sent to the general public, including people who may not have an account with Linkt.
If you receive a message from someone claiming to be Linkt or Transurban that does not seem quite accurate, do not click on the link. Some examples of what you may see in a scam text are incorrect spelling or strange URLs.
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