December 7, 2023

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Drivers shed extra than $660k to toll highway fraud as phishing tries surge in Australia

4 min read

A highway excursion holiday that should really have remaining Heidi Landford sensation peaceful has instead seen her drop victim to a toll highway rip-off that is affecting hundreds of Australians weekly.  

Two weeks after a Fraser Island getaway with her fiance, the Gold Coast ballet trainer obtained a text concept that stated she had an superb toll.

“I imagined it was reputable simply because it was the date that we travelled and I considered I will have to have overlooked to pay out it,” Ms Landford stated.

Soon after following a url embedded in the information, Ms Landford stuffed out her specifics on what she explained as a “excellent duplicate” of the toll operator’s web site.

“It experienced the colors, the symbol — anything about it looked particularly like the Linkt internet site that I have paid out tolls on right before,” she stated.

“I just didn’t imagine anything of it.”

Regretably, Ms Landford had been lured in by a phishing scam.

A young woman sits behind the wheel of her car.
Gold Coastline ballet trainer Heidi Landford fell target to a toll highway scam right after getting a text message.(ABC Gold Coast: Mark Rigby)

The Australian Competitors and Purchaser Fee (ACCC) claimed cash dropped to phishing jumped from $4.3 million in 2021 to $24.6 million in 2022 — an increase of 469 for each cent.

“Scamwatch is informed of a important boost in phishing frauds via textual content, electronic mail and social media [and] been given over 74,500 studies of phishing scams in 2022,” an ACCC spokesperson mentioned.

ACCC knowledge shows that of those people who report a phishing try, one particular-fifth, or 14,500 people today, report being a victim of a toll street scam, with losses totalling more than $664,000.

Ms Landford, who realised the rip-off and cancelled her credit card right before any dollars was accessed, mentioned the experience designed her problem texts and e-mail from virtually all organisations.

“It just can make you second guess every little thing, even legit things that arrive by,” she claimed.

Numbers blocked, websites shut down

Griffith College cyber security senior lecturer David Tuffley mentioned scammers phishing for facts with web-sites that “spoofed” those people of authentic companies had turn into ever more slick in the latest instances.

A screenshot of a text claiming the recipient has an unpaid e-toll bill, with a URL link at the bottom of the message.
Transurban claims telcos have blocked much more than 12,000 exclusive SMS quantities employed for scams.(ABC News)

“A couple of decades back it was really amateurish web-sites that ended up put up to idiot men and women,” Dr Tuffley stated.

“Now scammers are realising that the far more expert the website seems to be, the a lot more very likely they are for men and women to be taken in by it.”

Transurban, the business that manages Linkt toll streets in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, has labored with telcos to block more than 12,000 one of a kind cellular numbers utilised in the fraud.

“We’ve also been equipped to prevent more than 1,500 fraudulent sites that these cons hyperlink by way of to, to truly mitigate the effects on the group,” Transurban client working experience and functions typical manager Chris Jackson stated.

“We recognise that some frauds will get via, so we’re seriously targeted on education and learning and have emailed around five million shoppers about the frauds.”

A ‘concerning phenomenon’

Mr Jackson says the time between employing toll roadways and getting fraud texts, which can vary between several hours, times and months, is coincidental, and a result of scammers sending hundreds of textual content messages day-to-day.

“What the scammers are truly banking on is that one or two folks will have travelled on the street recently and the concept will resonate,” he explained.

“It is really like throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks.”

A side car mirror reflects Sydney traffic in peak hour. There are trucks, vans, and cars lined up.
Toll street scams accounted for about 20 per cent of all Australian phishing ripoffs in 2022.(ABC News: Taryn Southcombe)

But Dr Tuffley said toll road buyers receiving scam messages in just hours or days of their travel was a “very about phenomenon”.

“If it truly is going on a great deal then it certainly would bear a great deal of scrutiny on the systems that sustain a website link between a person’s identification and the selection plate of the car that they generate,” he mentioned.

“I might be wary of suggesting any impropriety on behalf of the corporation by itself, but info leaks can happen and it would absolutely bear a pretty shut inspection of their protection.”

‘Millions’ of quantities on dark website

Dr Tuffley explained the proliferation of text concept cons was most likely to keep on in the wake of the effectively-publicised Optus and Medibank details breaches, and other breaches that gained considerably less publicity.

“That has unveiled literally tens of millions of people’s mobile phone quantities on to the dark web,” he explained.

“That can be acquired by poor actors, by cyber hackers to work their ripoffs.

“I you should not imagine it’s a coincidence that we’ve found a major surge in this form of matter in the months adhering to those definitely huge-scale facts breaches.”

Cars drive along a four-lane motorway.
Transurban says two million customers use its toll roads in Qld, NSW and Vic everyday.(The Small business)

Mr Jackson stated Transurban experienced no evidence of any details breach in its technique.

“In actuality, we get rather a massive quantity of phone calls from the basic public who will not have accounts with us enquiring in relation to those texts,” he reported.

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