19 April, 2013 10:04AM AWST
By Emma Wynne
A message warning of interruptions to your mobile phone service could be the first sign that your bank account is about to be drained.
Texting on a qwerty keypad phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Andrew O’Connor, presenter of 730WA, and his wife have just been the victims of a sophisticated scammers who hacked into their bank accounts
“It started when my wife received a text message last Friday saying that network upgrades were being done by Telstra and that some customers might experience some interruption in their services,” Andrew said.
“The interruptions never occurred but several days later she received the same text message. Two minutes later she received another message saying that her voicemail pin had been reset.
“Then her phone went dead.”
Two hours later, $10,000 had been taken out of the O’Connor’s accounts. Within 14 hours of the phone going dead, $18,000 had been stolen from the accounts.
At the time, they simply thought it was a malfunctioning phone but when they contacted Telstra, Telstra said the phone number had been transfered to another carrier, and the number was now attached to another SIM card with a different provider.
A few days later, Andrew checked his accounts and found they were all empty. The thieves had left just $48 and Andrew contacted his bank.
“At no stage did I connect the malfunctioning phone with any potential risk to our bank accounts.”
What appears to have happened is that the fraudsters have first hijacked the phone number, and then accessed the O’Connors internet banking identity, and set up another account with another bank to transfer the money to.
Part of the bank’s security systems involves an SMS to the customer to verify that they want this go ahead, hence the hijacking of the phone.
“I had no clue that when we received that text message telling us about a ‘Telstra upgrade’ that that was the start of a con,” Andrew said.
“There doesn’t seem to be any information warning people about this, so if anyone gets a message like this they should immediately be suspicious and call their bank.”
The bank has investigated, traced the receiver of the money and is working with police to track down the scammers.
The good news is that the O’Connors will recover their stolen funds.
David Hillyard, Director of Consumer Protection’s ScamNet, says it’s a scam that has been around for the last 12 months.
He says that while the text message was the first sign, it likely started much earlier with malware on a home computer allowing the hackers to get into the online banking account.
He says the department hasn’t seen many cases, but they have been significant.
He advises people who do get a message about their phone service to contact their carrier and verify that independently.
“You also need to adequately maintain security on your computer and make sure you’ve got anti-spyware on your computer.”
A harmless-sounding text message could be the first sign that you’ve been hacked (ABC News: Simon Brown)
Source:ABC Central Victoria