Linkt e-tag toll road scam asking Australians to pay a small fee but then fleecing thousands

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How a simple text message scam is ruining the lives of thousands of Aussies – and what you can do to protect yourself from getting conned

  • Scammers are targeting users of road toll e-tags such as Linkt by Transurban 
  • Text is sent claiming a toll wasn’t deducted and it must be paid to avoid a penalty 
  • But the link directs to lookalike fake website where bank details can be pinched 

Motorists are being warned that thousands of Australians are falling victim to brazen scam that begins with a text message asking for an outstanding road toll to be paid. 

The scam is targeting users of Linkt and other e-tags – small plastic devices that attach to windshields and automatically register tolls – which work Australia-wide. 

The text claims a toll, usually only a few dollars, failed to be deducted and asks the recipient to pay via a website to avoid additional larger charges. 

But the website is a fake which looks and has a web address almost identical to the genuine site and, once credit card details are entered, scammers then quickly drain bank accounts. 

HOW TO AVOID THE TOLL SCAM

1. Transurban, which owns Linkt, and the NSW Government’s E-toll said they will never send texts asking for payment, so ignore them and block the number.

2. Never click on a link in a text or email to navigate to the Linkt or E-toll websites but enter the address manually or use the app. 

3. Ignore any messages that don’t look legitimate, for example with poor spelling or from an overseas number or that have strange links.

Young mum Catherine Arrowsmith said she double-checked the website and it looked legitimate but she was quickly fleeced for thousands. 

‘About two weeks later they went and spent about $8,000 in Victoria and I live in NSW,’ she told A Current Affair.

She is angry her bank didn’t flagged the unusual transactions and put a hold on her card.

‘They didn’t put any stop on the cards. The transactions were for $2,500, another $900 at Coles, and another $900 at Woolies.’

‘I don’t think I’ve ever spent $900 at Coles,’ she said.

Pensioner Andrew Engel, 74, is in a similar situation, except he had $11,000 stolen in a series of smaller transactions of exactly a thousand dollars at the same Kmart store.

‘I go to bed at night it’s the last thing I think about, it’s the first thing I think about when I wake up because it’s such a large amount of money,’ he said.

His bank also didn’t put any stop on the card despite the transactions being very out of the ordinary for the decades-long customer.

While Ms Arrowsmith got about three-quarters of her money back through dispute resolution with her bank, Mr Engels attempt was knocked back and he remains out of pocket.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said tens of thousands of Aussies were being hit by the scam.

NSW government owned E-toll and Linkt owner Transurban, which builds and owns toll roads nationally, said they will never send text messages asking for payments so users should ignore such texts.

STATEMENT FROM TRANSURBAN

We will never ask you to reply to an email or SMS with your financial information or personal information. If we need you to manage your account, we will always direct you to log into your account directly via linkt.com.au or the Linkt app.

Our Cyber Security Operations team is working with telecommunications providers to identify and block phone numbers sending these texts. We have reported nearly 2000 unique scam messages to telecommunications providers so that they can block these and protect our customers and the Australian public.

These scam texts are being sent to the general public, including people who may not have an account with Linkt.

If you receive a message from someone claiming to be Linkt or Transurban that doesn’t seem quite right, don’t click on the link. Some examples of what you may see in a scam text include incorrect spelling, or strange URLs.

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