Woman Scammed Out of $30,000 Inheritance After One Simple Call

When Sharon Watkins, 54, received a call on her mobile telling her she would be charged $99 if she didn’t cancel her Amazon Prime account, she thought she had better respond.

Watkins had signed up to the internet giant’s streaming service but found she wasn’t using it, she told 9news.com.au.

The medical receptionist responded to the recorded message and agreed to speak with somebody who said they were from Amazon to cancel the account and avoid the charge.

But what happened next saw Watkins’ bank account drained of the $30,000 left to her by her late mother, leaving her “devastated”.

She is far from alone.

By mid February this year alone, scammers have swiped almost $2m via remote access scams, targeting over 1000 Aussies.

Sudden Friday afternoon mobile call

Watkins, who lives in the rural community of Woomelang an hour from Swan Hill in Victoria’s north west, said she only answered the call, from a mobile number, as she thought it might be a tradie she was waiting to hear from.

“It was an automated call, saying my Amazon Prime free trial was about to expire and if I didn’t want to incur a $99 debit out of my account I needed to press one and cancel it,” Watkins, said.

“So I pressed one and I was put through to a woman, I told her I wanted to cancel, she asked me why.

“I said, ‘I don’t use it all that much.

“She said, ‘ok that’s fine’, and proceeded to ask me to download an app to full in an online cancellation form.”

Watkins was instructed to download an app called Zoho Assist, which she did.

The app is legitimate. It allows the user to access another computer remotely when given permission.

But it should have sparked a red flag.

Watkins said she then tried to fill out a form online as instructed, but was then faced with an “error” message.

The woman on the phone put her onto her “supervisor”.

”I was speaking to someone called David who asked me to go into my Amazon account to verify my card that I used for my transactions and purchases,” she said.

“He asked me to go into my bank account and verify that everything was okay.”

Watkins said she had no suspicions at this point, except for the fact the cancellation seemed to be taking ages.

“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t charged the $99,” she said.

“That was all I was thinking about.”

Strange comment sparked sudden fear

Having been on the phone for a while she then told “David” she had to go, and he asked if he could call her the next day.

He told her the cancellation was taking a long time “because her internet was slow”

“He said, ‘tonight don’t use your internet and it probably won’t take as long tomorrow,” he told her.

It was that unusual comment which finally sparked a realisation in Watkins.

“I immediately had a bad thought,” she said.

“I got straight onto my bank account.

“I noticed there was two very large amount of money that had been transferred from my savings into my everyday account and we pending out of my everyday account.

“I was shaking,”

Watkins rang Bendigo Bank in tears.

The money was savings left to her by her late mother three years ago.

And while the bank locked the account they told her they’d need to investigate and were not sure she’d get it back.

Warning over crypto ‘wallets’ scattered in streets

Remarkably, the next morning the scammer rang Watkins again and she confronted them.

”‘I said, ‘where’s my money?” she said.

“He said, ‘you wont get your money back.”

Don’t make her mistakes, says victim

Watkins now wants to warn people about similar scams, saying the ordeal is “destroying her.”

“If you have any doubt whatsoever about a call, text or email out of the blue from a business or company you are associated with, stop communication with them straight away and call them directly to verify it’s legitimate,” she said.

After being contacted by nine.com.au, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank said it will refund the money to Watkins.

“Bendigo and Adelaide Bank takes cyber security very seriously,” a spokesman, said.

“We use a combination of security best practices to safeguard our systems and protect customer data.

“We would like to take the opportunity to remind customers of the important role they play in keeping their information secure, as we continue to look for new ways to detect and neutralise threats to their online security.”

Amazon said it will never ask for credit card information to verify identity before helping with a customer service issue, nor ask for payments over the phone or email, ask customers to buy a gift card for any service, or download or install any software.

“Although these scams take place outside our store, we will continue to invest in protecting customers and educating the public on scam avoidance,” a spokeswoman, said.

Amazon scam is just one of many

Pretending to be from firms such as Amazon as well as Telstra, eBay, NBN Co, banks, government organisations, police, and computer and IT support organisations is common, Scamwatch said.

“Scams of this nature will often be an unexpected phone call saying you’ve been billed for a purchase you didn’t make, your device has been compromised, or your account has been hacked,” a spokeswoman, said,

“They will tell you to download remote control software such as Zo Ho Assist, AnyDesk or TeamViewer.

“Once the scammer has control of your computer or device, they will ask you to log into applications such as emails, internet banking or PayPal accounts, which will allow the scammer to access your banking and personal information to impersonate you or steal money.”

Scamwatch warned users to never give an unsolicited caller remote access to a computer, or personal details but to hang up.

Source: https://www.9news.com.au/national/amazon-scam-call-woman-scammed-out-of-30k-inheritance/e8aa54c7-12eb-4bb1-b7e6-113aa271870a

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