• Hannah Phillips

Be Alert for this Scam, Police Warn

Scams come in many forms, but police in the Barossa region have identified an increase in allegations of scams where victims are being tricked into transferring money to the offenders rather than legitimate businesses.

These offences occur when offenders hack the email accounts of private individuals and businesses, intercepting invoices or requests for financial transfers.

The offender, purporting themselves as the rightful beneficiary of the funds, provides modified bank account details to the victim, and requests the victim redirects payment into the newly advised account.

Victim individuals and businesses are being tricked into transferring the money into the account of the offender. Invariably by the time the victim realises the funds did not go to the rightful recipient, it is too late to stop the transfer or recover the money.

This type of scam has been seen in the past, with at least one SA business losing nearly $1.5 million in one case several years ago.

Police would like to alert the public and businesses to be vigilant when receiving requests to redirect payment to an account different to the original invoice or request.

Police suggest than when this occurs, personal contact is made with the payee to verify the information.

How to avoid being scammed:

  • Treat phone calls, emails or letters from a supplier seeking a change to the bank account details you use to pay them, with caution.

  • Use the correct, independently verified number from the supplier’s website, or the one you have on file, to call a known contact directly to confirm if the request is legitimate.

  • If emailing, type the known email address in the ‘to’ section rather than replying to an email received – scammers often use a very similar email address but with a different suffix or domain name.

  • Know that a BSB search, which can easily be done online, will reveal details about a bank account you have been asked to send to.

  • Remember words you enter in the free text when conducting bank transfers have no bearing on the transaction – ie writing the name of the account holder does not mean it is that company’s bank account, it can belong to scammers posing as a company.

  • Be aware that scammers have also been known to hack Chief Executive officers’ and managers’ email accounts, then send email authorisation to junior officers for the transfer of money into an account controlled by the offenders.

Further information relative to current scams can be obtained from the Scamwatch website.

Anyone who has suffered a loss in a scam should report it to police via the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).

Certain reports will then be directed to Australian Law enforcement and government agencies for further investigation.

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