Residents warned to be on high alert with scams on rise

A LOCAL MP has come out swinging after one elderly resident was inundated with electronic and hard-copy scams over the past few weeks.

Scammers using phone, email and mailing services have swamped 61-year-old Ian Clark with dodgy "get rich quick" schemes.

Mr Clark is just one of many vulnerable older people in the region who are being targeted by scammers.

In the most recent scam, Mr Clark was told, via a note with a Royal Mail letterhead, he was the recipient of a 9.8-million-pound estate in England.

"There's a lot of people who are going to get these letters and they look convincing," he said.

Gladstone's independent state MP Liz Cunningham wants it to stop.

Ms Cunningham said older members of the community grew up in an era where trusting someone at their word was the norm, so they were susceptible to being used.

"Older people are so used to giving out their confidential information, i.e. with pension cards etc," she said.

She advised anyone who had received scam letters to get in touch with herself or her office directly, so she could alert the Office of Fair Trading, which in turn was able to update its databases to assist in the battle against fraudulent foreign and domestic schemes.

"They're (elderly people) very trusting, lovely people, and very believing," Ms Cunningham said.

"If anyone has any concerns or has received unsolicited contact, they should call my office or Ken O'Dowd's office and we'll get onto it for them."

The Office of Fair Trading said the golden rule was, if an offer looked too good to be true, it probably was.

Because most scams originate outside of Australia, victims have trouble recouping their losses.

Ian Clark wants to warn locals about the risks of scammers after receiving a dodgy letter in the mail last week.
Ian Clark wants to warn locals about the risks of scammers after receiving a dodgy letter in the mail last week. Brenda Strong

Mr Clark is sick and tired of people trying to rip him off.

After receiving phone calls from what he said were scammers from the Philippines for the past five or six years, things went a step further last week.

Mr Clark and his wife received a letter in the mail, with Royal Mail letterhead, alerting them to the death of a supposed member of their immediate family.

The scam included a request to have Mr Clark and his wife present themselves as trustees, to access the estate of the deceased, valued at 9.8 million British Pounds, according to the dodgy letter.

Luckily for him, Ian had a career working with computers and was alert to the scam, but wished to make sure others in the region were keeping up their guards.

He said the calls were usually from people posing to be from Microsoft help desk, trying to encourage them to install certain software on their computer, to enable the scammers to then gain control and access to passwords and other private information.

"Most of the time it has been 'hello, we are the Microsoft help desk' and what they're trying to do is to get you to put on a piece of software which will let them take over your computer," he said.

"Lately they've also been saying 'we're representing the Charities Association of Australia' and I find that one personally very offensive."

Mr Clark warned most people, himself included, did not have much variation when it came to passwords for things like online banking and other personal activities, which placed them as an easy target.

Mr Clark, 61, advised people receiving similar scam emails and phone calls to alert local police to ensure those responsible could be dealt with.


Office of Fair Trading advice:

  • Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don't know and trust
  • Keep your bank cards safe; make sure nobody else knows your PIN number
  • Do not click on any links in a spam email or open any files attached to them

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