SCAM SCARE: My identity was ‘stolen to commit $1.3m fraud’
SCAMMERS had me in total shock yesterday afternoon when they called to say a federal warrant was going to be issued for my arrest due to alleged fraud totalling $1.3 million.
At 4.59pm, I received a call from a mobile number and a foreign sounding female told me she was calling from Services Australia on behalf of the Australian Taxation Office.
As it sounded serious, I listened.
The woman said she was calling to help me as a federal warrant was being issued for my arrest, after my identity had been used to establish 28 credit cards and 18 bank accounts which had been involved in fraudulent activity totalling $1.3 million.
Instantly my heartbeat escalated.
Is this woman for real, I thought?
So I continued to listen.
In the background I could hear multiple voices, like she was calling from a call centre, as she claimed.
The woman then proceeded to ask for my name, postcode and taxfile number.
She then asked how many bank accounts and credit cards I had, to which I replied I have two Commonwealth Bank accounts and no credit cards.
The woman said I would soon be receiving a call from the “local Queensland police”, who were investigating the matters.
Within a minute, while the woman was still on the phone, I received a call from a number which, due to my job, I recognised to be the phone number for Gladstone Police.
The woman told me to take the call so I did, and I spoke to a man with a foreign accent claiming to be an officer from “Central Queensland Gladstone Police” who was investigating my matters.
As I know several Gladstone police officers, I proceeded to state “I am a journalist, I know many of the Gladstone police and I wondered if you can confirm who the Inspector is at the station?”
Immediately the “officer” hung up.
Still in shock, my heart was pounding when I called Queensland Police Media and spoke to a Sergeant, who quickly informed me it was a scam, and to report it with as much detail as possible to Scamwatch.
My racing heart gradually slowed as I reported all the details immediately to Scamwatch.
A Queensland Police Service spokesman said recent reports indicated the scammers were using a practice known as caller ID spoofing, where they inappropriately manipulated the telephone network to indicate the incoming call is from a different number (in these cases a QPS number).
Detective Acting Superintendent Vince Byrnes from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group urged Queensland residents to always be vigilant when receiving phone calls from people asking for money or personal details.
“Police, or any other legitimate government department or financial institution, will never call you and ask for your personal banking information or payments in gift cards, cryptocurrency or money transfers,” said Detective Acting Superintendent Byrnes.
“It is important to take independent steps to verify a caller’s identity before providing any personal information or payments of any sort, irrespective of the phone number displayed, or who a caller claims to work for.
“Please make your own inquiries if you do receive a phone call from what appears to be a police station, take down the callers details, find a number yourself and dial it in, rather than returning a call you may have missed or were directed to.”
If you have received such a call and made a payment to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately and report the matter to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
If you did not lose any funds you can still report the incident to Scamwatch.