Live stream scammers target Consumer Protection Awards
Live stream scammers have targeted the Western Australian Consumer Protection Awards virtual event on Facebook prompting a warning from the consumer watchdog’s fraud prevention section WA ScamNet.
Due to COVID-19, the Consumer Protection Awards March 2020 in-person event was postponed and then cancelled, leading to a virtual Awards ceremony for the first time.
Commissioner Lanie Chopping says scammers who tried to hijack the live stream also tried to lure viewers away from other Facebook Live events being run by universities in Australia.
“Shortly before our awards were due to start, we became aware of several Facebook profiles attempting to divert viewers to a different page, by posting links to what they claimed to be the ‘CP Awards live event’. This happened in the comments section beneath the event’s banner image,” Ms Chopping said.
“The links led to a fake website that was branded with the CP Awards images and a media player. Clicking the play button led potential victims to a website claiming login was required and to click a button to create an account. The ultimate aim was to divert them to a ‘music and video’ subscription page that required credit card details.
“Fortunately, we had a team of moderators working on the event who we were able to delete the comments and ban the profiles and, to our knowledge, nobody has handed over personal information or lost any money in this phishing attempt.
“We were later made aware that the scammers were targeting another Facebook Live event in Perth hosted by a higher-education facility that was occurring at the same time. And the scammers then went on to target an event being held by a university over east.”
WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection had not been aware of scammers targeting Live events on social media in this way and public warnings will now be issued about live streaming scams.
“Thankfully about 60 groups watching at places like KidsafeWA and WA's community legal centres had a really positive viewing experience and were unaware of the work going on behind the scenes to stop the scammers,” the Commissioner said.
“It’s disappointing that this annual event to reward and recognise the consumer protection achievements of West Australians – indeed many who try to prevent scams – was targeted in this way by scammers. It shows these fraudsters have no shame and will go to any lengths to trick people into parting with personal and secure information such as credit card details.”
Live stream scams appear to have emerged during COVID-19 when live stream events have become more popular due to social distancing restrictions. For example, overseas there have been live stream music events to replace concerts that have been hijacked by scammers.
Scam prevention tips:
- If you are hosting a Facebook Live event, watch out for dubious-looking profiles that appear to be outside of Australia but RSVP or like event posts. Check the comments section of your event image/banner before and during the event for any posts with links to phishing websites.
- Facebook users should always ensure a message containing a link to an event is from the genuine organisation hosting it. Consumer Protection WA only posts as ‘Consumer Protection WA’ and not under any individual person names but accounts posting supposed event links included a profile with the name Arifa Jannat and another profile with a name in Arabic.
- Know that Consumer Protection does not charge a fee for people to attend an event – our services are free.
- Check the tick before you click – some pages and profiles on Facebook are verified and will have either a blue or grey badge/tick.
- Be suspicious if an event you are trying to watch is requesting login information that you wouldn’t expect was required.
- If you click on a link and give out personal or banking information call your bank as soon as possible and arrange for an alert to be placed on your account to avoid unauthorised payments coming out. Also contact ID Care (www.idcare.org) to discuss identification security.
- If you become aware of a live stream event phishing scam, as a Facebook user or event organiser, try to get screenshots and report the incident to WA ScamNet (www.scamnet.wa.gov.au)
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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