21 Mar 2012
By Darren Kane

Scam-romancing the phone

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Press delete, throw it out, shut the door or just hang up. That is the latest consumer advice to avoid becoming a fraud target as scammers are becoming even more sophisticated in their methods and willingness to spend the time to setup elaborate scams to find your vulnerable spot.

Scam-romancing the phone The ACCC’s third annual Targeting Scams Report tells the unfortunate but important story of 83,150 scams being reported by consumers and small businesses in 2011, almost double that of 2010 when 42,385 scams were reported. What concerns me is the number of scams that go unreported because people feel too embarrassed or helpless to speak out.

At the end of the day, it’s the same story; scammers are looking to take advantage of you and will go so far as to play on your emotions and make you feel guilty for not trusting them. All they want is to rip off your money, identity, bank details, or personal information – and this can leave you feeling embarrassed for trusting someone who took advantage of you, or helpless because there is nothing you can do to stop the scammer.

I think one of the best ways we can overcome these barriers is to raise awareness about the different type of scams in circulation – by sharing our personal stories and experiences with each other.

To help launch the ACFT’s National Consumer Fraud Week, I participated in a storytelling discussion panel where I shared a story about a recent fraud case we investigated. This particular case involved scammers recruiting unsuspecting mules on dating websites and persuading them to purchase mobile handsets from Telstra. The mobiles were then shipped overseas for re-selling and the recruiters were promised the profit made from selling these mobiles would pay for a VISA application, so the person they thought they were helping could travel to Australia and continue their relationship.

Dating website scams not only feature in the top 10 list of scams affecting Australians, but are one of the more lucrative types of scam with almost five per cent of consumers who reported a loss in 2011 losing more than $100,000.

“The Little Black Book of Scams”

This pocket-sized edition of ‘The Little Black Book of Scams’ is brought to you by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the national consumer protection agency. The Little Black Book of Scams is recognised internationally as an important tool for consumers and small businesses to learn about scams and we have limited copies to giveaway for free. If you can’t make it into on of the stores mentioned below you can download a copy from the ACCC, or order one online.


Telstra Store, George Street

Telstra Store, Queen Street Mall

Telstra Store, Queens Plaza


Icon Store, 400 George Street


Icon Store, 246 Bourke St (coming soon!)

So if you meet someone special online and they ask you to purchase multiple mobile handsets and ship them overseas: press delete, throw it out, shut the door or just hang up! Never allow your identity or address to be used in fraudulent purchases of any description.

Watch the video below: listen to my full story about the Mobile Fraud Dating Mule case…


Posts: 19


  1. prepaidplans says:

    Having worked for one of Australia’s most popular anti-virus providers all the best software will not save a dumb user. If you want to avoid being scammed, delet the emaisl you don’t understand and never click on attachments if you don’t know who they are from, even if you bank with Westpac or shop at Woolworths. If you think to yourself why are they emailing me, then hit delete. If it is legit, they are likely to call you back.

  2. Darren Kane says:

    Thanks for your comment. The fact that there is not a best-selling book called ‘how to avoid being scammed for dummies’ shows that even the most security conscious person can also become a victim. Unfortunatley, the scams we’re now seeing are more elaborate in their construction and authentic in appearance, meaning that everyone has to be more vigilant. Its not just the risktakers, the uninformed or the greedy who are falling prey to these scammers.

  3. Brent says:

    The vulnerable are just as easy a target as the above groups you described. Playing on emotion has been the realm of real estate agents and car salesman-why not a scammer?

    The days of a freely accessible white pages, electoral roll and even an unlocked leterbox may be something that needs to change.

    The advent of autodialers with remote scammers sonding no different to the many overseas call centres makes it easy for them to work as we expect calls from overseas- the anomymous phone number, the initial delay and then lots of “Hello? Hello?” before someone speaks.

  4. Hon Peter LEWIS says:

    Telstra has soiled its nest badly in the momopoly deal it struck with The Wandsworth Group & The South australian Health Commission to take momopoly

  5. Donald says:

    2012.07.10 – You don’t make it easy to explore this issue – i.e. phone calls from a call centre offering to sell an alternative plan so as to get a large discount on my Telstra bill (‘as a loyal customer’).
    I simply wanted to ask about this outfit, as to whether it was legit or not. The caller said he was from Aussietel but would not give.a call back number unless I gave him information about the payment of my last bill.
    When I told him I was not interested at this time he said, with irritation: ‘Why are you wasting my time?’!! and hung up. What’s the answer? Is it legit?

  6. anna says:

    I’ve also had customers reporting that they keep getting calls from people who claim to work for Telstra offering discounted/better rates for their service. They mentioned that the person would then ask for their account details. This also happens via email, they get emails telling them that their account may have been compromised and to click on a link to update their account. Sounds dodgy, doesn’t it?

  7. Troy says:

    I had a couple of calls yesterday from someone pretending to be from Telstra offering discounted/better rates. One thing to look for is if they ask for DOB – Telstra doesn’t ask for this on outgoing calls as I understand it.

    • Hi Troy. Here’s some advice. If you receive a call that seems suspicious but caller says they are from Telstra? You can hang up. Never give anyone remote access to your computer. Don’t give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source. Make sure your computer is protected with a firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware software that you purchased from a reputable software provider. If you think you provided your account details to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately.
      * If you suspect you’ve been scammed by an organisation misrepresenting Telstra or BigPond, report it to us via the BigPond Misuse of Service form

  8. Janelle says:

    I only recently called Telstra to move my phone and internet line to a new address. Well, since moving in a week ago I have had non-stop phone calls from someone claiming to be from Telstra. This organisation, who is actually called ‘Precise Telecom’ wanted my account details. However, after saying no, they continue to call repeatedly. What I find surprising about this, is that they already knew my last name and address. I would like to know how they have these details when I have only just given them to telstra and have not yet changed my residential address or phone number for any other service or company?

  9. Aus says:

    If you lodge your details at the below site, (do not call register) it becomes illegal for telemarketers etc to call. The ycan be fined.. There are a few exceptions, ie some areas that you may have given permission to contact you. Although have a read..
    it is a government web site which you can link to from then search ‘do not call’.

    You can list your Australian fixed line and mobile numbers on the Do Not Call Register, provided the numbers are used primarily for private or domestic purposes. The Do Not Call Register has been set up in response to increasing community concern about the growth in unsolicited telemarketing calls

  10. Aus says:

    further to my last…
    if you register, it can take a while for the lists to be updated, so its not unreasonable to receive a few calls in the 1st month or so after registering..

    and.. there may be calls that you dont mind receiving that can be a benifit and due to being registered you wont receive as they cant call.. so its a catch 22..

  11. Lyn says:

    I have had an experience today of what I believe was a scam. The caller said as I was such a good Telstra customer they were offering me reduced rental and calls. They could tell me what my last Telstra bill amts were which concerned me. I rang Telstra and they said aussietel weren’t a registered reseller of Telstra products. Telstra rep wasn’t concerned about the fact that the guy obviously had info about my bill history. The guy from aussietel Daniel gave me an ID number 115775 so if they are a scam they have also picked up that Telstra employees have an ID number. Are aussietel a legit telco or is this a scam?

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Lyn, Thanks so much for letting us know, we take these claims very seriously. I will pass it onto our team to investigate. Thanks, Jamie.

    • HI Lyn, I can confirm that these calls aren’t from Telstra. Please don’t share personal, credit card or banking details over the phone, unless you’ve made the call and are comfortable with whom you are speaking with. If you have provided personal or banking details to an unverified telemarketing caller, you should contact your bank or financial institution immediately. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  12. Marion says:

    Call from ‘Aussie Tel’ as above. After speaking with the first salesperson, we were also put on to ‘Daniel’, who offered discounted phone services and unlimited download for $60/month. Because ADSL is not available in our area he said, “Sorry, cant help you” and ended the call.
    Didn’t ask for any personal information – just the total amount of our last phone bill, then how much was for phone/mobile and internet.
    Claimed to be Telstra re-seller.

    • Hi Marion, These calls aren’t from Telstra. Some tips to help with these sorts of calls:

      2. If you receive an unexpected phone call , always ask for the name of the person you’re speaking to, and who they represent.
      3. If you’re not sure about the person on the other end of the phone, hang up and call the organisation using their official contact details
      4. Don’t respond to text messages or missed calls from numbers you don’t recognise.
      5. Be careful of returning calls to phone numbers beginning with 190. These are usually charged at a premium rate and can be expensive
      6. If you think something’s not quite right, just hang up or press delete
      7. Don’t share personal, credit card or banking details over the phone, unless you’ve made the call and are comfortable with whom you are speaking wit.h If you have provided personal or banking details to an unverified telemarketing caller, you should contact your bank or financial institution immediately

      I hope this helps!


  13. sueC says:

    Aussietel is still at it. Got one today. Was passed from the young girl with appalling English who couldn’t answer my questions, up to her supervisor with marginal English who repeated they were offering to save me 20% on my Telstra Bill because ‘the offer was for good payers of bills’. Said they were a Telstra Reseller, but their logic got all fuzzy when I asked them why they could offer me a discount on exactly the same service, etc etc just by paying my bill via them, when if it was a prompt payment discount Telstra would.. (Bundling is different and wasn’t mentioned). She got real tetechy when I told her I didn’t understand how her offer worked :-) Smelled like a account flipper to me (obviously moved on from energy bills..)
    Telstra were great when I checked it with them (online chat is so convenient..) so its logged, and they made sure nothing had been altered.
    I am on Do not call , but this mob and the ‘windows computer issue’ crew obviously don’t care. I wonder if they have worked out they don’t get caught?

    • Hi Sue. I can confirm that these calls aren’t from Telstra. It doesn’t sound like you have, but if you’ve provided personal or banking details to an unverified telemarketing caller, you should contact your bank or financial institution immediately. Thanks, Jamie.

    • Tom says:

      Same as Sue above.

      Funnily, when I asked for the name of their company, I was told “Don’t worry about it. You don’t need to worry about that – we are a Telstra retailer”

      I’m just wondering what they got out of it. I didn’t tell them anything except my last bill amount (which I made up).

      I tried to play dumb and enthusiastic and they ended by saying they had no plans to suit me and hung up.


      • Hi Tom, Thanks for letting us know. It’s really important you don’t provide any personal information to them and if you have, to contact your financial institution. Thanks, Jamie.

  14. Gill says:

    Just received a call from “Cecilia” at “Aussie Tel”, very keen to offer me a good discount since I’m such a good payer although 1) she had to ask me what I paid each much and 2) we don’t actually get billed by Telstra. Sounded like a good deal until I said I wanted it in writing before I agreed to change and of course she couldn’t do that…I was to agree to the new deal when her manager called me back, then I would receive the details! Googling “Aussie Tel” was very enlightening!

  15. Alister says:

    Call from Aussietel just now. Wouldn’t tell me what the deal was and just kept asking questions when I told him I was on the Do Not Call register. Took about 5 long minutes to get the message and he finally terminated the call politely

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