People shown how to protect themselves after latest cyber scams hit computers

WARNING: Jill Marshall explains how to detect and avoid cyber scams to people at the Orange City Library on Monday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 015jkcyber1

WARNING: Jill Marshall explains how to detect and avoid cyber scams to people at the Orange City Library on Monday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 015jkcyber1

Computer users in Orange have been hit by several scams as cyber criminals target senior citizens.

Senior civil law solicitor at Legal Aid, Jill Marshall, said the scams were sophisticated and aimed at robbing less-savvy computer users of their money and banking details.

Ms Marshall led a cyber safety advice session for senior citizens at the Orange City Library on Monday as part of Law Week.

She said the criminals, mainly from China and Eastern Europe, were using the names of reputable government agencies and companies to fool people into handing over money.

Ms Marshall said there had been three separate scams in the region this year.

She said an email purporting to be from Origin Energy was circulated last week.

When users clicked on the bill it opened a zip file which downloaded data onto their computer, followed by demands for money to be paid.

She said there had also been text messages, purportedly from the Commonwealth Bank, which asked people to renew their online banking details and required them to reveal their password.

And a holiday incentive scheme was circulating in which users who had completed a survey were later told they had won a holiday but then had to keep sending money to pay for travel vouchers.

“We are making people aware of the scams that are around,” she said.

“The new scams are becoming more sophisticated.

“The statistics show they are targeting more elderly people. They are not as savvy about computers.

“If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, delete it, do not click on it or any attachments in the email.

“If it sounds too good to be true then generally it is.

“It is very hard to get money back from a scam.”

Sue Gentles, who runs a medical practice in Orange, said she received the scam Origin email last Wednesday.

Mrs Gentles said it looked like an official Origin Energy email and listed the correct website and phone number details – however later inspection revealed the Origin logo was a slightly different colour to the real one.

She said that when she clicked on the bill for $800, it went to a zip file which tried to download information but it failed as she did not have the unzipping program on her computer.

“It looked quite legitimate,” she said.