Email Scams are a real threat to Australian business owners and are costing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. An email scam called ‘The Favour’ is currently doing the rounds using emails to target businesses that have a website.
While there are slight variations, the scam is always initiated via email from what appears to be a legitimate, well-informed client, requesting a quote. The client is very clear on what service they want and their budget.
The scammers offer to send through their credit card details for their down payment plus an additional amount to be used to pay a ‘project consultant’. They request that you send the said additional amount via your bank account to a third-party bank account, usually referred to as the ‘project consultant’. They state that the ‘project consultant’ doesn’t have credit card facilities and only accepts direct deposit or cash, which they are unable to provide. They appeal to the generosity of the business by referring to their ‘hearing impediment’ and claiming an upcoming surgery.
Within 30 days of the credit card payment being made the card is found to be fraudulent and the Australian business is then liable for the funds already transferred to the so-called ‘project consultant’.
Features of the ‘The Favour’ Email Scam
- Client refuses to talk via phone due to their ‘hearing impediment’
- Client states they are from Australia but are using a foreign email address
- Credit card only transaction – claim to not have the cash for PayPal or direct debit
- Poor spelling and grammar
- Request that a deposit plus additional money all be credited to their credit card and then transferred in cash by your company to a third party.
How Australian Business Owners Can Spot a Scam Email
“The Favour” is only one example of the email scams circulating. In 2016 alone 24 925 business and personal phishing (email) scams were reported to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) via Scamwatch, resulting in a loss of $373 860.
Australian business owners are advised to be wary of any suspicious emails, and the following tips will help identify potential scams:
- URL and hyperlink don’t match – hover your mouse over the URL to see the hyperlink
- Unusual domain name structure – the company name should appear at the end of the address before the ‘.com’
- Poor grammar and spelling
- Personal information request
- Offer is too good to be true
- Money request
- The naming of Government agencies is usually a red flag as they don’t send emails requesting personal information, always call the agency to confirm
- No logo or images, though scammers are wising up and sometimes have convincing images and logos
- Other or undisclosed email recipients listed on the same email
If you receive a suspicious email, type the subject line or a sentence from the email into Google and see if any scam alerts are listed. If you’re still unsure, it is best to forward the email to your IT department, or just ignore it. If you do become aware of an email scam, report it to the ACCC via scam watch: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam
Security and privacy issues are prevalent on the internet and caution is advised when dealing with online transactions. Websites are particularly vulnerable to email and online threats, so here at F1RST we are dedicated to our clients’ online security. As part of our Website Management Plans, we offer Premium Email Protection & Spam Filter services for our Coffs Harbour business clients.