Police issue warning about bank account hacking scam

POLICE have ​w​arned south-west residents about an internet scam with criminals claiming bank accounts have been hacked.

Cobden police Sergeant Heather Morris said the scam had been circulating with overseas criminals claiming to be banking representatives.

She said the offenders notified people their accounts have been hacked and requesting assistance to track the hackers for prosecution, stating they’re working with governmental or police agencies, including Interpol and ASIO. 

“They convince the person to allow them access to their computer banking accounts, stating they’ve deposited money into their account,” she said.

 “If the person being scammed checks, the money will have been transferred internally, from one of their accounts into their main account, to convince them the scam is legitimate.”

Sergeant Morris said the scammers then request the purchase of iTune cards and the cards activation code, which provides them with computer credit, to continue scamming others.

“Residents need to be reminded these people are masters of their trade. They are conmen and extremely good at manipulating people,” she said.

The station chief said there were a number of things people should be wary of - such as iTunes cards not being a form of currency. 

“If you are requested to purchase and supply the access code of iTune cards, it’s a scam,” Sergeant Morris said.

“No legitimate company uses or accepts these as payment or for funding. Most of the larger supermarket stores have a banner on the iTune card display stating that it’s a scam and to contact police. 

“The purchase of cards exceeding a certain price will prompt the store attendance to ask the purpose of their purchase and to advise of the possibility of a scam.”

Sergeant Morris said police involved in large investigations would attend your address and identify themselves. 

She said smaller investigations may be conducted over the phone but clarification would always be provided, if requested.

“If someone says they are working with police clarify this with your local police station,” she said.

“If asked not to discuss the matter with the institution associated with the scam,  it’s a scam.

“If requested not to discuss this with anyone else, including family members or friends, it’s a scam. 

“Supermarkets and banking staff are often aware of circulating scams and will provide advice regarding them. Family and friends are likely to be suspicious and convince you it’s a scam.”

Sergeant Morris said there were some simple steps residents could take to protect themselves.

“Never allow any person access to your bank accounts or provide them your banking details,” she said.

“If you suspect they have access, shut your computer down immediately and don’t use it again until the hard drive is cleaned and reset.

“Banking is a highly regulated industry, which constantly monitors internal systems. If you are advised of account hacking from any source, immediately shut your computer down and attend your local bank branch.”

Sergeant Morris said any further checks could be done on the banks computers, which were secure. 

“Do not discuss any further details with a person who contacts you via phone,” she said.

“The banks protect their clients and reimburse funds if hacked.  Talk to people about what’s happening. Family and friends may have heard of a similar situation and be able to provide advice.

“Speak to your local police. Officers may not be aware of current scams, but understand the legality of investigations and will advise about suspicious or questionable practises.”

Sergeant Morris requested people with queries check internet sites like Scamwatch and report incidents on the ACORN (Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Newtwork) system.

“Protect your money,” she said.

“If you allow these people access to your account, the bank is not liable and police will not be able to find or charge the person responsible,” she said.