Police issue warning after York family scammed out of $20,000

A family in York have lost $20,000 to scammers claiming to be from a telecommunications provider, with local police sending a warning to consumers. Photo: File image.
A family in York have lost $20,000 to scammers claiming to be from a telecommunications provider, with local police sending a warning to consumers. Photo: File image.

A family in York have lost $20,000 to scammers claiming to be from a telecommunications provider, with local police sending a warning to consumers.

The family gave a caller, claiming to be from Telstra inquiring about the NBN, access to their bank account before losing almost $20,000.

Two similar cases have been reported in the Perth metropolitan area in the past fortnight, with two seniors losing money to scammers claiming to be from the NBN.

In one instance, an 81 year old man received a call from someone claiming to be from the NBN where he was told there were infected files on his computer and they needed access it.

They kept the victim on his landline for most of the day and said his mobile phone had also been infected so he needed to turn it off for two days.

In the meantime, they made three withdrawals from his bank account amounting to $37,000.

In another case an 82 year old man lost $19,000 when contacted by someone claiming to be from the NBN who then passed him through to someone supposedly from Telstra.

They accessed his computer, made the unauthorised withdrawal and told him to turn off his mobile phone.

Officers from the York Police station warned people in the local area to be alert.

"WA Police would like to remind you not to give personal information to people who cold call you, especially when they ask for email and computer address, passwords and if they ask for money or banking details and passwords," a spokesperson said.

Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said he is alarmed at the tactics that prevent the victim from seeking advice or getting alerts from their bank.

"One key piece of advice we give consumers is to talk to family or friends when caught in these situations, or contact the telco direct to verify if it is a genuine call, so these tactics are aimed at circumventing that advice and isolating their victims, which is concerning to us," Mr Hillyard said.

"Often banks will attempt to contact customers if they see unusually large transactions so, by making their victims uncontactable, it is more likely that the transactions will go through.

"We want people to be aware that new NBN connections are listed on the internet, so scammers can target people in those areas knowing that they will more readily accept that they are talking to a genuine person from NBN or that their provider is calling them about the recent connection.

"It's a trick that appears to be successful in duping people into cooperating with their demands which unfortunately results in a financial loss that people in our community, particularly seniors, can least afford.

"Under no circumstances should anyone grant access to their computer to a third party no matter who they say they are and especially if they have called out of the blue."

Information and advice on scams is available on the WA ScamNet website www.scamnet.wa.gov.au.