Elderly lady loses $6k to Telstra scam

Spencer Fowler Steen

A North Melbourne local has warned of a sophisticated scam targeting Telstra customers after she was tricked into giving her credit card details over on the phone, leaving her feeling “scared” and “ashamed”.

Prue, 70, who asked not to share her real name, said $6000 was stolen from her late last year after receiving a call on a Melbourne number from someone claiming to be a Telstra representative.

“I got a call in the evening from Telstra saying they’d picked up some anomalies in my internet and email,” she said.

“I’d been having difficulties with my email at the time. In perfect English – and it was a Melbourne number so I thought that looked authentic – they said, ‘we have the last four digits of your credit card, if we read them out, can you give me the rest of the numbers?’”

“They ended up coming through my phone and doing phone banking. I’m always careful, but they ended up accessing my account and transferring quite a lot of money out.”

Prue, who has worked until she was 70 and travelled all around the world, said she wanted to warn the public about the sophisticated methods the scammers used, which included tricks to convince her bank that their transactions out of her account where legitimate.

“I want people to realise it doesn’t matter how wise you are, you can be tricked,” she said.

“I was distraught, I had two months of feeling of how could this happen to me? How could I lose money I’d earnt and worked so hard to get?”

“I’m a very nervous person since then. It hurts. I raised three children on my own, I’ve paid for everything, I bought my property, but I feel like we’re not safe anymore from these people.”

“They’re getting cleverer and cleverer, and no-one is safe. I was always very confident, but I was so ashamed.”

Prue said after she noticed money coming out of her banking account in small instalments, she reported it to the police who informed her that international scammers could use Melbourne numbers.

Luckily, her bank came to her aid and refunded the money after she called Telstra who told her that the company did not ask for credit card details over the phone.

“I just want to prevent this happening again, I feel like the police, banks and Telstra are all dealing with scams, but they’re not combining. There’s no plan that I know of. I think they’re problem is so big, no one knows how to deal with it and the police are running around like mad hatters.”

Asked what Telstra was doing to address these types of scams, a spokesperson said the telecommunications company took these issues seriously.

“We take these matters very seriously and our aggressive blocking strategy now stops more than 13 million suspected scam calls a month on average from reaching end customers,” the spokesperson said.

 “We know that scammers sometimes try to impersonate Telstra.

“If it doesn’t sound or feel like Telstra, hang up.” •

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