It is no secret that online scammers are increasingly targeting the over 65 community, and Resthaven Leabrook Retirement Living resident, Mr Bryan Burnett, knows this all too well.
Mr Burnett describes his recent experience with us—thankfully an unsuccessful attempt—to share his knowledge on what to do if this happens to you.
Mr Burnett explains, ‘I consider myself savvy with these sorts of things—my son works for a bank, and I myself used to be the state manager for a large American computer company—so I never suspected I would be fooled.’
‘A few weeks ago, I logged into my home desktop, and the screen was frozen with Microsoft branding—it looked legitimate—and there was a telephone number for me to call.’
‘I thought, “this must be them”, so I called the number, and spoke with an English-speaking businessman type, who seemed trustworthy.’
‘Ironically, he explained it was a new scam that I was experiencing, and offered to help me rectify the situation, not just for myself, but for others who were also being targeted.’
After an otherwise logical conversation, the man on the phone explained that a bank deposit would need to occur, but not in the way that would raise a red flag.
‘He convinced me that they had deposited a large sum of money into my account, and provided me with photographic evidence.’
‘I could not of course check this myself as I didn’t have access to my computer, so he texted me the photo of my bank details with the money there.’
‘It checked out, and because I did not disclose the information myself, I thought it must have been legitimate. And why would they give me money if it was a scam?’
Following the ‘deposit’, Mr Burnett was then instructed to visit his local bank branch to return the deposited money—all while being assured that this action would block the scammer from doing further damage to his computer.
‘I felt like a bit of a spy, actually! He told me to keep him on the line while I go to the bank, and I wasn’t allowed to disclose any of this to the branch. He gave me specific instructions on what to tell them. He said to say it was for a friend.’
Thankfully, Mr Burnett’s bank teller detected that he was being scammed at this moment, and did not authorise an instant transaction.
‘I explained this to him, and his tune changed entirely. I realised what was going on and hung up straight away.’
Mr Burnett reflects, ‘In hindsight, this was all suspicious, but in the moment, the fellow did not give me a chance to think for myself, he kept talking. It was also difficult to detect as his language was of a credible businessman, and he seemed to have a lot of information from me, such as my bank details… it was all too advanced to what I have normally experienced with scammers.’
‘My advice is, if you don’t know who it is, hang up. If you’re in my situation, where you cannot access your device, then call someone such as an external computer technician. If you’re in care, let the staff know.’
‘It’s always better to err on the side of caution, and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.’
Thank you for sharing your experience, Mr Burnett: ‘Be vigilant and aware of scammers’.