Recently, the inevitable happened in my house – one of us got scammed. My teenager was on Steam, an online gaming platform, and called out, “Dad I’m on a call and they’re saying I need to pay money to them, or I’ll be reported for fraud. I don’t understand”. I popped into his room and read through the chat thread, unmuting “Tom” to ask him what was required. Tom quickly realised he was dealing with an adult and no longer a child. He basically said, “we’ll close the account if you don’t pay the $247 USD”. I hung up, we high fived and thought wow, close call, we caught that just in time. An embarrassed and upset 15-year-old realised they don’t know everything online and certainly need to be more careful. Dad saves the day!
As I got back to what I was doing, I hear the tone all parents dread, “Dad…”. Knowing something was wrong, I went back upstairs to find a very upset teenager whose account had been closed with no access permitted. I couldn’t understand. I asked him had anything been clicked on or have you shared personal details. Yes, there it was, a link sent by Tom from Steam Support asking to log in and verify details. The page that had been clicked on was a carbon copy of the Steam Support page. An email and password were entered and that was it, Tom and his team of scammers (yes, it was a team) had my teenagers details, changed the password and I expect the email too. All games in Steam were gone, the account logged out and as a result, an expensive lesson in cyber security awareness for the 15-year-old.
Luckily, my teenager had the sense to pause at this point and call out to me. I don’t think he would have put in the card details but who knows, these scammers have no ethics and can be very convincing. We were lucky. A few hundred dollars of games lost, an upset teenager and a damaged ego, but a lesson I think will ensure they don’t fall for this again. Well, hopefully.
This situation isn’t ideal, and it shows the level of sophistication cybercriminals are reaching and how unethical they are.
This is the reality every week for property transactions in Australia. The same as the gaming platform which impacted my teenager, the level of sophistication and understanding of how monies change hands in the sale and purchase of property is clearly understood by cybercriminals, both here and around the world. As a professional involved in the sale and purchase of property, should you be concerned? Yes. You need to be diligent and aware of these issues. You need to provide services to your clients that protect them, yourself, and your business. At times this can seem unachievable but there are best practices you can put in place without disrupting too much of your workflows. Likewise, we should be doing the same in our homes as with our loved ones.
It’s important now more than ever that we’re all vigilante when it comes to cyber security, both at home and in our workplace.
Author: Lee Bailie
Lee Bailie is Head of Property Australia at InfoTrack. His key goal is to ensure InfoTrack provides clients with market leading and innovative technology for stakeholders involved with property transactions. Lee is an experienced leader and has strong background in the information technology and professional services industry.