Perth pensioners conned by NBN scammers

Stock image.
Stock image.

TWO Perth pensioners have been conned out of more than $50,000 by scammers claiming to be from the National Broadband Network.

Thieves are targeting seniors with new NBN connections, gaining access to their computers and bank accounts and preventing them from making calls to their family or their bank.

Consumer Protection WA warned that two seniors had lost money to scammers, including an 81-year-old man who was robbed of $37,000.

As the man had been connected to the NBN just the day before, he thought it was a genuine call. He was told there were infected files on his computer and they needed access, so he followed their instructions.

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.

 

Scammers are targeting seniors who have joined the NBN. Picture: iStock

 

In the meantime, they made three withdrawals from his bank account amounting to $37,000. Becoming increasingly concerned, he called a family member from a friend’s home who told him it was a scam.

His bank has only managed to recover a $10,000 payment.

In a similar case recently, 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.

In this case they accessed his computer, made the unauthorised withdrawal and told him to turn off his mobile phone.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said he was alarmed at the tactics which 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. Contact Consumer Protection by emailing consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.