VICTIMS of a complex identity theft operation said it only realized something was wrong when one of its phones randomly went into SOS mode.
Raphael Wong and his wife Tiffany from Melbourne, Australia, have revealed how long an opportunistic hacker almost got away with stealing thousands from them.
The Melbourne couple welcomed a new baby during Victoria’s 70-day lockdown in 2021.
But while the new parents were adjusting to their new normal, a cunning thief stole their identities, cheated on taxes and nearly made £22,200 in retirement savings.
In February 2021, Tiffany requested a driver’s license that never arrived but she was so focused on other things she didn’t realize.
Six months later, her phone went into “SOS Only” mode and she was unable to make any phone calls.
Raphael, 32 years old, told news.com.au: “It was a couple of weeks before we processed.”
When they approached their phone company, the couple found they were paying for a brand new iPad and iPhone for £200 a month that they had never bought.
When Raphael and Tiffany looked at their Optus cell phone plan, they found all their details changed to email addresses that didn’t belong to them.
“Once we realized someone had updated our details, that’s when the alarm started going off,” says Raphael.
The password to their email kept getting changed until they lost access completely.
They believe a hacker stole Tiffany’s license from the post and was able to use her personal information to gain access to their phone and email accounts.
The couple were then horrified to find their super was at risk after another personal account had been targeted and attempted to release the funds early.
Raphael was able to block the hacker but contacted his accountant because it was tax time and their email was linked to the account.
The accountant later revealed that they had arrived too late, the details had been changed and he had been removed from their Australian Taxation Office login.
He was able to re-fill it himself, but discovered the tax refund application was AUD$42,000 (£22,200).
“It was some serious identity theft, it shocked us,” Raphael said.
“Without our accountant, we would never have known. It’s all just a mess. It’s quite worrying. There is definitely a sense of violation.”
The couple urged others to take multiple layers of protection and be wary of mail.
Victoria Police can confirm they have received a cyber report of an incident believed to involve the personal financial accounts of a Burwood man and woman being compromised in August 2021.
A spokesman said: “The report is currently being evaluated.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4420094/phone-sos-mode-living-nightmare/ My phone goes into ‘SOS mode’ and my bill goes up to £200 a month