This very informative story was handed to me by a fellow Gippslandian with permission to publish unedited in the hopes that it helps others. Many thanks to Loris B.
“How I got our bank accounts hacked by a scammer
I was asked by Jon to jot down my experience with banking hacking. I guess it was my own stupidity that caused it. You would also have to know my background, the fact that I am now in my 80s, and the amount of stress I am living under at the moment, to realise why I let it happen. But that’s another story.
I have a feeling that this one may have started on 21st February, this year, when I was on Facebook, checking what my cousins were putting on there, and I saw something on one of the little clips on the side that looked interesting. I clicked on it, and read it.
I was then busy typing when a screen from Microsoft came up, with a loud voice saying that if I didn’t ring a certain number within a certain amount of time they’d close down the computer.
I couldn’t get rid of the screen, couldn’t access anything on the computer, and couldn’t turn off the voice that just kept going over and over the spiel saying that someone was trying to get into the banking details, Facebook account etc. etc.
I tried turning the computer off, then on again (using the on/off button), and the same screen came up, I unplugged the internet, but it didn’t make any difference. I was getting a bit frantic by this time.
I ended up ringing the number, (02)8599 4333 after plugging in the internet again, and came up with someone who said they were in America, though they had a heavy Indian accent. Even talked about the weather where he was. Heard our dog bark so talked about dogs. He got a bit annoyed with me to start, because I was asking if he was legitimate or if he was the hacker. I asked if I was on to Microsoft, and was told I wasn’t, but they were authorised by Microsoft.
At some stage he stopped the loud voice that was driving me mad, and I suppose I should have been suspicious of that, but I was just relieved to get the voice stopped.
One problem was that I had to end up purchasing a 12-month subscription to some virus removal programme, and to do this they transferred me to their sales department, or something, and which I paid for via my Visa debit card. .
They then transferred me back to someone to tell me how to download the programme. All this took quite some time, and they chatted about all sorts of things.
Got that lot sorted out, and I have an icon on the computer which says it’s ‘Live Secure’ and I think that is what was put on.
Got transferred yet again to someone else, and I had to take him on trust, cross my fingers and give him access to the computer – and then he spent the next hour and a half supposedly cleaning it all up. O.K., it was stupid me let them in I guess, but I’d had to do a similar thing with a local repair shop when something wasn’t quite right after they’d replaced the hard drive on the computer. They then did all sorts of things which I could see scrolling across the screen, once they’d removed the bright notice, but being a typist rather than a computer operator, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. They then announced that all was well.
And it was, for a couple of weeks, then I got a phone call from them, on 8th March, reminding me that I’d purchased a virus protection programme from them, and saying that they had detected a problem with my computer, and would need to clean it again. And because it was a guaranteed programme, and it had let me down, they had to refund me the purchase price – plus. I said it didn’t matter, but they insisted that the Government said they had to, and not just the couple of hundred dollars, but $498.00. I said I didn’t want it, they insisted.
As I’d paid the original purchase by Visa they already had those details, and reckoned they’d just transfer the money back into the bank, and that’s where I should have pulled the plug.
They put a screen up on the computer, showing they were transferring $500 to my account, then the figure of $5000 showed up. Oh, there has been a mistake, keys must have got stuck, they’ll have to get that back and start again.
The asked me to log into the bank account and check, and, sure enough, the $5000 was showing up, and by this time I didn’t think that if they were in the computer, and the bank details were showing up, it was dangerous. It was about 10.00 in the morning, I was trying to get the usual housework done, but was stuck on the phone and computer, and couldn’t leave it.
They reckoned they’d have to get the $5000 back, and started fiddling, blanking out the screen a couple of times, with the excuse they were doing that so it wasn’t visible to anyone. It wasn’t visible to me, either. I did tell them not to touch any other money, and they assured me they wouldn’t.
They then said that it was going to take time to get the money back, and not to use the computer or log onto the account for about three hours. I told them I needed to get onto the account, and they still said not to, and not to use the computer for that time.
So, having two laptops, I turned on the second one to check the bank accounts, and promptly got a phone call from them, saying that they’d told me not to.
I decided that was enough, and turned off both computers, but an hour or more had passed by this time.
I rang the credit union/bank, and asked if $5000 had been put in. They promptly put me through to the fraud department. They checked the account, said it hadn’t, but that $5000 had been taken out, and they’d freeze the accounts until I had the computer cleaned and then taken the receipt for the cleaning to them. In the meantime they’d try to get the money back.
We went to the bank that afternoon, and on the way actually got another call from the scammers, wanting to know if I was in front of the computer, because they were still in it and needed to finish the job. I told them I wasn’t, and hung up. Got to the bank, and found the hackers had taken money from one account, transferred it to another, and taken the $5000 from that account, not leaving very much in either account. Thankfully I had pulled the plug before the scammers were able to get into the term deposit, as they were possibly trying to do that, and that’s probably why they wanted me off the computer for three hours.
But, to be on the safe side, they closed both our memberships of the credit union/bank, opened new memberships, closed the cheque accounts, cancelled the debit Visa cards, then had to open two new accounts, arrange for new Visa cards and new cheque books. But, of course, we had to wait for these to be posted to us, and as we live in Poowong, and the closest branch of the credit union is in Moe, it wasn’t a case of just nipping down to the shops to get cash from the branch when needed.
They wanted the old cheque books, which I hadn’t taken, so we said we’d take those when we took the receipt for the cleaning. In the meantime the accounts remained frozen.
I don’t like transferring money via the internet, so when the new accounts were set up I had it arranged that I can check the balance on the computer, but can’t transfer any money.
Luckily we had money in a safe at home, to pay any bills, as I put money away each week for those, so we could live on that until things got sorted out. I gave the computer to Jon to clean.
As my husband is in receipt of a Government superannuation pension, and we both get part age-pensions, we had to notify ComSuper and Centrelink of the changes to the bank accounts. And I also had to notify our internet provider of the new Visa card number, when we finally got that, because they take their fee out monthly.
The new cheque books arrived, the Visa cards and PINs arrived, and things were back to normal, with me being a bit wiser.
On 16th March I got another call, reminding me that I’d purchased the virus protection programme, and that they’d stuffed up (not his words), and owed me a refund. I told him that they’d stolen $5000 from us, I wanted it back, and hung up.
We went to the bank that day to hand in the old cheque books, the Visa cards had arrived that morning, so I planned to get the bank to activate them. Because the accounts had been frozen I wasn’t able to get onto them to check the balance, and when we got to Moe with the receipt we got the good news that they had been able to get most of the $5000 back, all but about $35 of it, and that was lost due to international transfer rates, as the money had been sent to a bank in Thailand.
But, about another three weeks down the track, I got another phone call, reminding me that I’d purchased a virus protection programme – and I stopped them in their tracks and hung up. I got another three or four calls from them, at spaced intervals, and stopped them each time. Some of the calls came from a New South Wales number, some showed up as Private.
I haven’t heard from them for several weeks now, and I’m hoping they have given me up as a bad job.