A con man took $10,000 from a woman's account while she was on the phone
A con man took $10,000 from a woman's account while she was on the phone

How $10,000 was stolen while I waited on the phone

A POLITE con man acting as a spokesman for an international web host has stolen $10,000 from a Sunshine Coast woman's bank account.

Peta Passalaris called her email provider, Crazy Domains, last week after experiencing complications with her account.

She was left on hold for 40 minutes before a man answered and identified himself as a customer-service staff member.

During a two-hour conversation with the man, who Mrs Passalaris described as polite and confident, she gave away credit card details, allowing the man to access her computer system.

The next day, Mrs Passalaris's bank phoned to give her the gut-wrenching news that $10,000 had been taken from her account.

She was told there was nothing anyone could do about it.

"The number I called is the same number I have been calling for years, so how could I expect anyone but Crazy Domains," Mrs Passalaris said.

"It is because I called them and I gave them my details that I won't see a cent of the money stolen from me.

"I'm shattered."

Mrs Passalaris said she had not suspected the man was a fraud at any point during the conversation.

"He was so professional," she said.

"He kept saying to me the credit card I was giving him was not working and that he needed the pin on the back for it to work.

"He even gave me his employee number and a reference number for our conversation.

"It was only when I put the phone down that I had an awful feeling in my stomach that something was terribly wrong."

The transaction was made out of two of the credit cards to a bank account in Switzerland.

Mrs Passalaris said she had contacted the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and her bank straight away, but was told because she willingly had given away her details, no money would be retrieved.

"If I had my wallet stolen or someone had hacked into my bank account, it would be a different story," she said.

A SCAMwatch spokesman said computer hacking had been one of the most commonly reported scams in 2011, and contributed to more than 23% of the total scam reports to the ACCC.

"This type of scam continues to do the rounds, with scammers impersonating other well-known and trusted companies or government agencies to slip under your radar," the spokesman said.

You can report scams to the ACCC via the SCAMwatch web page or by calling 1300 795 995.



Suspect: Don't accept anything at face value-if it sounds unlikely or too good to be true, it probably is.

Think: Recognise the signs - if you're being pressured to act, disclose personal details or send money to a stranger, it's almost certainly a scam.

Report: Act quickly-tell SCAMwatch and stop scammers in their tracks.

Ignore: Never respond. Just hang up, or delete the SMS or email after reporting.