A mother of three has shared how she was scammed $154,000 as a warning so others don’t have to go through the horror she did.
Tricia Harding was devastated when she was scammed in an elaborate phishing scheme and wants banks to do more to make sure others aren’t scammed in the same way.
The scam started when Ms Harding, who lives in the Sunshine Coast region of Queensland, sent an email to her children in April saying she wanted to give them some money.
She and her husband, Peter, sold their house and wanted to share some of the money with their children, so contacted them to ask for their bank details.
A Queensland mother was devastated when she was ripped off in an elaborate phishing scheme and wants banks to do more to ensure others are not scammed in the same way. Pictured is a mock-up of a bank transfer
Hackers often use email addresses that are very similar to the real ones a person knows in an attempt to scam them. Pictured is a stock photo of an email account
But answers that seemed to come from her son Simon and daughter Amy weren’t really theirs, though the address was nearly identical to her children’s emails.
The only difference was that an extra letter was added to the addresses.
The cybercriminal sent separate bank details, presumably from Simon and Amy, to Ms. Harding, and she transferred $154,000 to the crook.
When her children told her that the money hadn’t come in, Mrs. Harding realized that something terrible had happened.
Her daughter Amy told her she didn’t a Commonwealth bank account.
What is phishing?
Phishing involves contacting a target or targets via email, phone, or text message by someone impersonating someone else, such as someone they know or a legitimate institution.
Its purpose is to trick the person being scammed into providing sensitive information such as bank and credit card details and passwords.
“Your heart is sinking…I clicked on the email address and showed it to her and she said, ‘I didn’t send that,'” Mrs. Harding told the courier post.
When she realized exactly what had happened, she thought ‘what’s happening now, where’s my money?’
Investigations revealed that Simon’s email to his mother was intercepted, deleted, and then sent from a very similar address to the scammer’s bank details.
While Amy’s email had arrived to her mother, the criminal sent another email from the fake Amy with details of another bank account to send the money to.
David Lacey of cybersecurity specialists IDCare said the scammer likely hacked into Ms. Harding’s email and created so-called forwarding rules.
“These are rules that are intentionally shared with outside email accounts, such as the criminal’s account, emails that Ms. Harding receives that may contain specific words or characters, such as BSB or $ signs,” said Dr. lacey.
Cyber criminals do this so that they don’t have to read every email the person they hack receives, but are immediately alerted to those that contain information that they can use in a scam.
David Lacey (pictured) said email phishing is common
Email phishing accounts for nearly one in ten of people who contact IDCare for help.
Dr Lacey said the experience is ‘very worrying for Ms Harding, her mental health and well-being, trust in online interaction and privacy’.
People involved in such crimes are at risk of having their identities misused again, as are people who have sent information to the victim.
dr. Lacey said there were some simple precautions that could be taken to protect yourself online, such as using multi-factor authentication, strong passwords, and checking filtered or deleted messages regularly.
Ms. Harding contacted the banks to which her money was sent as well as her own banks, and finally got all her money back after five months.
“It was a long process of waiting and hoping,” she said.
Ms Harding said banks have a responsibility to match names with account details, which is already happening abroad.
A Queensland couple sold their home but were then scammed for $154,000 when they tried to give some of the profits to their children. Pictured is a stock photo of an Australian house