Email scam warning

An increasing number of Australians fall victim to scam emails every year

Email scam warning

Scam emails continue to pour into our email boxes and are becoming harder to spot. An ever increasing number of Australians fall victim to scam emails every year and it is only through education that this number will decrease.

My work email address receives several scam emails a day, but there are a few newer style scams doing the rounds which are yielding large results for scammers due to the nature of the scams.

By far the most clever scam being sent around at the moment involves a scammer hacking the login details of a person’s email address. The scammer then sends out the below email (which I received) to each person in that email accounts contact list with a personal note asking for help. The scammer usually asks anyone who replies to send around A$800 by Western Union as this kind of money transfer cannot be reversed and is handed over to the person picking it up in cash.


I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, my family and I came down here to Manila, Philippines for a short vacation. Unfortunately, we were  mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed, all cash, credit card and cell phone were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financially assistance. Please, let me know if you can help us out?

Am freaked out at the moment!!

While the next scam is a little easier to spot and not personalised like the previous example, this scam has a higher victim rate due to not requiring any transaction from the victim. The scam comes in the form of a survey and after clicking the link provided, you are taken to a website which uploads malicious software to your computer. The majority of strong virus scanners will prevent you from ever making it to the website, but there are still a large number of internet users without the required security in place.

You have been selected to access the Woolworths Survey and win a $150.00 gift certificate.

Please Click Here and compete the form to receive your reward. Thank You.

This is an automated message. Please don't reply. Message ID: 0019362574-Woolworths

Are you one of the few without an anti-virus program installed? Please take the five minutes required to install one of the two free programs below.

Avast Free AntiVirus

AVG AntiVirus Free 2013


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    17th Jul 2013
    I have fallen victim to the survey scam and now get at least 4 spam emails from this company every day. I don't open them or try to Unsubscribe as I've been told spammers then know the have an active address.

    It's most annoying, does anybody know a way to stop this rubbish? I've thought of closing that email account but unfortunately it's one that a lot of people use to contact me. But if that's my only option I may have to do it. So no more surveys for me!!
    17th Jul 2013
    Try filtering your email. You can send suspect mail straight to the bin.
    17th Jul 2013
    I've found filtering doesn't work because these scammers change their email address and subject and the content, almost daily.

    Also, I recently had an email purportedly from Paypal, to update my bank details. It said my account would be frozen until I'd updated my bank details because my update was well overdue. I wasn't sucked in, but I could see how many could be. I hate scammers.
    Pass the Ductape
    17th Jul 2013
    I can't believe so many so-called intelligent Australians get scammed so simply.
    17th Jul 2013
    One way to stop spam is to let your mailbox overflow so that emails bounce back to the sender. This has worked for me but it probably won't work for all spam. Of course this also means you miss emails from your legitimate contacts for a few days.

    You can also start a second email account and tell all your contacts to use that before you let the old one overflow.
    Young Simmo
    17th Jul 2013
    I was getting 3 or 4 spam e-mails per day. I unsubscribed from Facebook and Twitter which I have never used anyway, and the scams dropped down to 1 or 2 per week. I made the mistake of subscribing to Facebook and Twitter when they first came on the seen, and have not bothered with them.
    17th Jul 2013
    I received a 7pm telephone call this week and it was a recorded political poll with no introduction as to who had initiated it. I inadvertently pressed #3 for the political party of my choice and then I suddently realised I shouldn't have done this. I was really worried that
    a scammer/hacker had gained access to my phone account. Does anyone here know if there
    is danger pressing numbers on the phone in response to an unknown source, please?
    17th Jul 2013
    There is a problem pressing numbers at the instigation of a call and it should never be done.

    One of the worst things that can happen is not that they get to your account but the caller can then make calls that are then expensed to your account.

    It's a bit like accepting reverse charges.
    17th Jul 2013
    Further to this to this this is not the same as when you call someone (gov department etc.) where they ask you to press numbers to get to a particular department.
    17th Jul 2013
    Thankyou, Wstaton.
    23rd Jul 2013
    In general, pressing numbers on a home or mobile phone cannot cause you any problem. The only possible exception is if you are at work or in an organisation that has an old PABX. see
    Andy Leucite
    17th Jul 2013
    Here is what appears to be another scam - not email based, but web-based.
    A few weeks ago I went to what appeared to be a Harvey Norman web=page for photo orders. I ordered a canvas print from an image I submitted on line. Within a few hours I got an email saying that my order had been completed and that it was on its way. I was pleased, except that the message was from a company I had never heard of, and further checking via a 'tracking number' that they supplied, purported to show that the order had been filled in the UK (!) and the package had gone through various transport hubs in the UK and finally appeared in Belgium where it sat for days. Naturally I was disturbed that the order happened to be in the hands of a firm I had never heard of, and that, even if it was some kind of a legitimate subcontracting by Harvey Norman, the order involved a huge number of truck and plane miles, whereas there seems to be no reason why it could not be done in this country. I wrote to Harvey Norman who denied any knowledge of my order, or of any of the correspondence that I received by email. Of course there is no sign of my delivery, and yet my credit card has been debited. It seems to me that the website that Google presented me with as purportedly for Harvey Norman photos orders, is some kind of clever copy of the real site, and exists only to take people's money, or at best, to steal business from Harvey Norman though the latter seems unlikely. HN claims they are investigating, but I am pretty sure I will never see anything for my on-line order. A bit galling because I still prefer to deal with businesses face-to-face if I can, mainly for this reason!
    17th Jul 2013
    I also ordered a photo book (not from Harvey Norman) but it did come from Belgium via the UK, if that is any comfort!
    17th Jul 2013
    You should contact your bank and tell them what has transpired and they can retrieve your funds from the source they have gone to. It's best to do it as soon as possible, but even so the bank can investigate and retrieve.
    Thai Traveller
    17th Jul 2013
    Why am I not surprised that the begging email come from the Philippines? I have never come across a place such as this, where almost every contact I made, requested money urgently.

    Not much different to Nigeria.
    17th Jul 2013
    Most cases of getting spam is when you subscribe to any genuine email message or offer.
    You then start getting spam emails from everywhere.

    The way I have fixed this is by having two email addresses. One I keep for just personal emails and one that I may respond to offers etc. (most ISP's allow more than one email address)

    If I get an email offer in my personal address and I think it is worth pursuing I sign up using the second email address. When the second one becomes too flagrant with email spam (and it will) I just delete it and create a new one. Any thing I have signed up with from the previous one that I wish to keep I just log onto it and change the email address to the new one.

    Also a lot of ISP's have a "spam" filter you can turn on that put any suspected spam into a junk folder. My particular ISP is set to send me an email once a week to tell me that I have mail in the junk folder and a link to look at it. You can then quick scan them to check if any genuine emails have inadvertently been put there.

    Another facility some ISP's have is a white filter. This is a filter where you can enter all the addresses you wish to receive mail from. Any other is put into the junk filter.
    17th Jul 2013
    My son was selling his car and got three spam enquiries the guys were at sea and couldn't view the vehicle so they were getting a third party to deal with it, and asked for a $800 odd deposit to be transferred via Western Union.

    These guys are scum and should be treated as such.
    17th Jul 2013
    I don't get spam very often it is marked for delete. I have used Mailwasher now for 10 years and I find it is the best amswer for these problems. You open Mailwasher and look at your mail ON THE SERVER. You can mark emails as spam and they automatically delete. You mark any emails you don't want. You press the "Wash" button and the nasties disappear. On the server are now your "good" emails. Then you can safely download your mail.

    This program is a New Zealand invention and it works. It was my best ever computer decision.
    Pass the Ductape
    17th Jul 2013
    I dunno Oscar. Sounds like a scam to me. :>)
    Pass the Ductape
    17th Jul 2013
    Sorry mate.....The devil made me write that!
    17th Jul 2013
    How about an email from (guess who!?!?) American Express? requesting details so they could update my record!! I have never had an American Express card so sent it "back requesting further details" (I did not open the attachment!) and after 5 days got a message from "Mail Administrator" to saying the email could not be delivered!!!! Now that is a strange one, eh?
    17th Jul 2013
    I got one last week purportedly from Westpac Bank, stating that my credit card had been
    suspended for 3 days, I did not open to peruse further. I have never had a Westpac account.
    Smelling a rat - I immediately phoned my actual bank to check all was well with my accounts, and they told me that a couple more customers had had the same emails, and it certainly was a scam, and they too were looking into it.
    Golden Oldie
    17th Jul 2013
    I had one recently from Optuszoo stating that my billing details had to be updated by replying via the attached hyperlink. The note also stated that this had to be done urgently as the only link was only good for 3 days and my Internet would be suspended if I didn't reply. I ignored it as I had no problems with my Optus account. I thought that the Optuszoo name was outdated and the 3 days deadline rang warning bells "scam".
    Young Simmo
    17th Jul 2013
    Hello Kaye, I think it would be a nifty trick if you can do it to make all the Male tags blue, and all the Female tags pink. That way when we reply we will know whether to say Mate or Sweetheart. Names like Young Simmo, Golden Oldie and Yorkie don't really give a clue. Just an idea from an Old Fart.
    18th Jul 2013
    Hi Drew,

    I am a little concerned that the two "Antivirus" programs you suggested are not in fact "free" at all.

    Certainly they "scan " your computer, bring up some 4000 odd errors and then ask you to purchase the "full versions" to remove ALL of the errors.

    I have seen these sort of "fixes" around for years, they are useless basically and may indeed even do more damage to your PC, when you "try " them.....I think you should clarify what you understand by "free" software and what you "thought" they did too all LC's members?

    My apologies if I am totally wrong here, but that is what I have experienced with these two programs and many times in the past with similar others.

    I only "tried" these because my normal (paid) Trend Micro Antivirus software has recently been "upset" by a Windows 7 update. I am now currently running Microsoft Security Essentials that is actually "free" and works!!!....Although I don't like being "organised" by Microsoft at least this seems better than your suggestions....until I get my Trend operative again.
    18th Jul 2013
    I do not agree with you BD about AVG not being free. I have used it for 4 years and have been thankful for it as it is continuously picking up bad things and getting rid of them not only on my PC but in emails as they come in.

    True AVG has a paid version but is entirely optional and adds some extra protection like identity theft etc but the basic free version is entirely free.
    Young Simmo
    18th Jul 2013
    I agree Wstaton, I have used AVG for years and been very happy with the free version. Currently I am using Norton because it came free with my new 18 inch ASUS lap top. It was good for 3 computers, so I stuck it into my Desk Top and My sons Happy Lappy.
    18th Jul 2013
    Further to your comment. AVG does not scan your computer and then comes up saying you have to buy them to remove the the errors.

    I do not know what AVG you use but it is not the AVG I use.

    There is a trial paid version the runs out after two weeks. I suspect this is the one you may have installed.

    I have also installed AVG free on friends PC's and they think it's great.

    When one goes to the avg free site you have to make sure you select the radio button for the free version as the default is for the paid version.
    18th Jul 2013
    Hi Everyone,

    OK, seems that I got it wrong about AVG, but I think I must have done what Wstaton suggests, I will try again with the completely "free" one as you suggest.

    In fact is was actually Avast (the second suggested one) that I tried and that seems to follow the "Register" requirement, so I assumed AVG was the same.

    As mentioned I am now running Microsoft Security Essentials and that seems fine, anyone had experience of this one? Overall I still like Trend and will go back to it, when I have the problems sorted....after all I have a paid subscription until the end of the year!
    18th Jul 2013
    I get many legitimate looking scam emails and was having a hard time blocking them. Then I noticed that the body of the email always had at least one link that pointed to a site with .pl/ in the address. I now have a rule on my incoming mail to bin any email with these characters in the body of the message - I am amazed how effective this is, it finds half my junk email.

    I would like to know how they got my email address in the first place.

    I find it necessary to change email address every couple of years and have multiple addresses going at any one time.
    Young Simmo
    18th Jul 2013
    Bancam, you say, "I would like to know how they got my email address in the first place".
    If you scroll up to my comment at 11.35 am 17th July, that might explain how some of it happens.

    19th Jul 2013
    Scams are easy to recognise, it's not rocket science
    24th Aug 2013
    Not necessarily so !! I got one from what appeared to be a well known...National... Transport Company and I was expecting a parcel but didn't know which company it was being sent by. I got an email saying that I wasn't home when they attempted to deliver it. No, I was out mosat of that day. When I tried to print the docket for details I got an alert that It could damage my computer needless to say I deleted it out of my computer completely immediately. There are trucks driving around Adelaide from this company doing genuine deliveries but they must rade under another name as well because I can't find them in our Local White Pages.
    I would never use Western Union even though It is processed by Aust. Post and some of their staff are aware that scammers use it. I have heard customers being warned. Once they have processed they have no way of reversing it.
    19th Jul 2013
    I guess we need to distinguish between email spam and email scams. Email spam is those emails that you receive unsolicited. They can consist of genuine non scam offers and of course scam offers.

    How does one end up getting what you may consider spam/scam emails. Well some commentors have already indicated some ways. (facebook, twitter etc.)

    Other ways are subscribing to offers like coupons, free groceries etc. When subscribing to these you should read the fine print. Most say that you give them permission to use your information as they want by accepting the offer. This may include passing your information onto other advertisers.

    Another way (and also a way you seem to get all those annoying popups and adverts coming from no-where, is when you install a new software product on your computer. It also occurs sometimes when you get an update to one already installed. Often there are options set by default that load other programs. You should read each install page as it comes up as these can usually be deselected. Common things loaded by default are "toolbars" "Google chrome" and agreements to accept emails.

    So when loading new apps or software just don't just keep clicking "next" read the whole box that comes up to ensure you are not going to install extras you do not want.

    Often these can be the cause of your PC slowing down as all these extras are loaded when you boot your computer. There are ways to stop this.

    As for scam emails, all one can say is be careful and give judgement to any received that have just came out of the blue.

    There are companies out there who make a business of collecting emails and selling them as email lists. So there is really no way of stopping all spam/scam emails, you can only put in measures to reduce them.

    There are some programs that you can subscribe to where they intercept emails and hold them they then send you an email to say "do you want to accept this email" If you say no then it is put into a blacklist. If you say yes then it is put into a whitelist.

    This is a way of automatically creating a whitelist instead of having to login to your ISP to create one and having to enter all the emails.
    Jabbathe Hut
    9th Aug 2013
    It is not only Emails to be careful of. The other day I got a phone call from Microsoft about some errors on my computer. It is a scam to get you to open your computer to them to install viruses. I took 20 minutes of their time before I told them I had 38 years in computing and would never give some one remote access to my computer unless I started the conversation. A random phone call from Overseas does not provide any proof of who is calling.
    Travelling woman
    11th Aug 2013
    Re AVG I had been using that for a few years when an IT friend said that Avira was better so I have been using that now for over 3 years and it has picked up a couple of viruses and websites too. I can certainly recommend that free antivirus.
    Re email scams - I was contacted on Facebook by a man who wanted to be friends so I thought OK I am happy to write to him as I enjoy writing. He was in Liverpool, UK and 16 years younger than me. He didn't have much on his profile and didn't impart much info at first - kept trying to say how lovely I was etc. etc. That rang bells and I told him I was in a relationship and very happy - he suddenly had a business contract go through and he had to go to Africa. I had learnt he was widowed with an 11 year old daughter who wanted to meet me too. He wanted to come here after going to Africa - of course I said no as I had only been emailing him for a month. I guessed what was coming as he had lost his wallet and cards on arrival in Africa. I told him to contact the Embassy but he said they wouldn't help nor would his bank yet he is supposed to be a very successful businessman with a very expensive car!!!! Next thing he is desperate and I am the only one who can help as he has no friends and needed $1650 to pick up goods in Africa after clearing Customs. I don't think so!!! Did he really think I was so gullible - when I deleted him as a friend he disappeared off the radar. Contacting friends in a group I am in they had received similar emails. There was another from a younger chap from the UK about 10 days ago - this I ignored. Am happy to email people as pen-pals but that is all.
    It is a sad world when people are taken in by these low-lifes. Be careful out there.
    24th Aug 2013
    There has also some supposed to have been from Westpac - even has their logo on it. I don't have an account with them anyway. I advised them about it. My bank has rung me a few times as a courtesy call re change of Interest rates, but the phone number is visible on my Mobile Phone and I know the person who mostly calls me as they are from my local branch. I don't use internet banking at all
    A relative of mine had an account with a particular bank, also a loan. They rang him.....but they guy asked him for his date of birth and other details. His response them was "you rang me you have got my records , you tell me" He knew it was actually a legitimate call as he had spoken to the guy in person at the branch a few times but he wasn't "playing his game". He told the guy if he didn't know him well he would think it was a scam.

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