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.
Catherine Arrowsmith (pictured) was fleeced for $8,000 after she paid a small $5 toll fine after getting a text
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.
Linkt e-tag (left) customers are being targeted by the scam text (right)
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.