Fake email barrage leads to charges

Confused woman looking at mobile phone | Newsreel
Two Gold Coast residents have been charged over an online phishing scam. | Photo: Feodora Chiosea (iStock)

Two Gold Coast residents, who allegedly sent almost 2 million fake text messages over a two-week period earlier this year, have been charged by Queensland Police.

A 37-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman, both Chinese nationals, were charged in relation to the online phishing scam.

Investigations by the Queensland Police Service Cybercrime Unit found Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Boxes, capable of sending bulk text messages, were allegedly being used to send out fraudulent links directing victims to fake websites in order to  steal money and identity information.

On March 23, police searched a Southport home on the Gold Coast where two SIM boxes and a number of SIM cards were located.

Police will allege the SIM boxes were used to send over 1.7 million toll-related scam messages, pretending to be from legitimate organisations, over a two-week period in February this year.

Police have released the following tips to avoid being scammed:

  • If you do not know the sender of an email or text message then delete the message.
  • Never click on links in a text message or email.
  • If you were not expecting the email or text message, check with the company via your own internet search.
  • Never send money to a web page or company that originated from a text message.
  • Research the website by using a search engine, look at the URL, see what else is being marketed, don’t be pressured into making a rash decision through fear of missing out.
  • Make sure that the payment details are encrypted – look for the prefix “https” in the URL and a padlock icon in the URL bar and use a secure payment method. Pay by PayPal or your credit/debit card.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Stop and think before committing to a trade or purchase.
  • If it is too good to be true be then it probably is.

To learn more about scams, visit Scamwatch.

If you have been the victim of a cybercrime, you can report online at ReportCyber.

If you have lost money, notify your bank or financial institution immediately.

For support and advice contact IDCare.