Even most money savvy can become scam victims
A COOROY business owner has forked out hundreds of dollars and spent countless hours rebuilding his reputation after international scammers hacked his websites.
David Wright, who has been helping people manage their money for 19 years through Simply Budgets, has warned other business owners to be on the alert for the sophisticated scam.
Unknown scammers have infiltrated his sites - Simply Budgets, Simply Wealth Steps and Succeed with Money - and used his domain as a platform to lure unsuspecting victims around the world to hand over their bank account details.
Mr Wright said the fraudulent pages could not be viewed when visiting his website, but were accessed via a link sent to thousands of people using his email address.
The websites normally receive about 50 hits a day but during the scam, which has hit him on separate occasions since June, about 12,000 people visited his site - a clear indication something was not right.
Mr Wright has hired professionals to rectify the problem and his sites are now safe.
Federal Police are investigating in an effort to track down the scammers.
"The hackers set up false web pages on my sites that looked as if they belonged to a couple of different European banks and then set about sending out emails from my personal email address requesting that people go to these false web pages to confirm their banking and credit card details so their details could be stolen," he said.
"As you can imagine, I am absolutely devastated by this.
"Not only have people been put at risk of identity theft, but I also have no way of
doing business while I have no websites.
"For the past 19 years, I had been helping people with their personal budgeting, so my domain name made for a perfect surrogate for the nasty files.
"They (the criminals) were using me and my websites as a place to put their web pages.
"When someone came out to fix the problem for me, it was found there were six places on my site where they were accessing my website.
"Over 30,000 customers used or have used my program for years.
"I have lots of testimonials supporting me over the 19 years and I just love what I do, but I just don't need these nasty hackers in my life."
The most recent Australian Consumer and Competition Corporation report, released in June this year, said more than 90,000 scams had been reported in 2013.
That equated to $89 million in lost money.
While Mr Wright took all the right precautions to protect his business, hackers still found a way to infiltrate his websites.
"My advice would be to take things very seriously when you first suspect something," Mr Wright said.
Tips for small business
Let other businesses and industry associations know about any scams.
Keep your accounting systems well-organised to make it easier for you to detect bogus accounts and invoices.
Never provide personal information and banking details to anyone you don't know and trust.
Make sure the business billing you is the one you normally deal with.
Never give out any information about your business unless you know what that information will be used for.
Have clear procedures for verifying, paying and managing accounts and invoices.
Install reputable computer protection software and a firewall.