Scammers these days are creatively using all forms of social media and messaging tools out there to try and trick people to part with their money always. Today we shall look at an example of a scam on the messaging application called “Signal”.
So, what is “Signal”? Well according to Wikipedia, “Signal is an encrypted messaging service for instant messaging, voice, and video calls. The instant messaging function includes sending text, voice notes, images, videos, and other files. Communication may be one-to-one between users, or for group messaging.”
If the messaging services are encrypted then it must be safe to use? Yes and No. Yes, if you know and can verify the person(s) that you are in communication with. No, if someone assumes the identity of a person(s) that you know and you are not able to catch it. Just because a messaging service is protected with encryption, it does not provide any validation of who on the other is communicating with you.
Please look at the screenshot below of a scam message being sent via the Signal messaging application itself.
Let’s take a few moments to dissect the techniques applied by the scammer here.
The scammer has masked their identity and assumes the generic profile and calls themselves “mum’”. Since everyone has a mother, assuming that you do communicate via messaging applications like signal, WhatsApp, and others. It was meant to lower your guard. However, if your mum hardly uses messaging applications to communicate with you as she prefers to call you then this should raise an alarm bell immediately. Nonetheless, you should always check to see if “mum’” in this case is your mother per se.
Next, the scammer said, “I am at Woolworth and brought the wrong card with me!”. Woolworth is a retail supermarket chain popular in Australia and New Zealand here. So if you receive this and there is no Woolworth retail supermarket chain where your mother lives and stays, the alarm bell should immediately ring already.
Another thing to note in that statement, the scammer says they have brought the wrong card with them. In this case, it will require you to know how your mother manages and behaves with her credit/debit cards. Do they regularly change purses, take out and put in different credit/debit cards every now and then? Or does your mother prefer to use cash (just like mine) then the alarm bell should ring here!
Following that the scammer said, “Can you please send me $800 and I will pay you back when I get home. BSB: 670-864 ACC: 1857-8450. Thank you”. At this point, the scammer has provided a Bank State Branch (BSB) code that is “BSB-670-864”. BSB Number is a six-digit code. The format of the BSB code originally was for the first two digits to indicate the “bank” and the other four digits to specify the “branch” of that financial institution, the first digit of which was the state code indicating the state where the branch was located.
A quick search on the Internet reveals that it’s YOU Bank located at Level 1, 89 York Street, Sydney, Australia itself.
At this point in time, you would need to know if your “mum” does any banking with YOU Bank. If she doesn’t then the alarm bell should ring (again).
Therefore, what to do should you get such messages on your phone then? We would propose the following steps for your safety:
Call your mum and talk to her or meet her in person to validate that she is safe and sound. If you cannot contact her, get a neighbour/family friend to validate as there are cases of advanced scammer techniques that block the sender’s phone line, thus making it more authentic and urgent.
Ensure that the scam messages do not originate from her mobile phone. Scan for viruses and malware using third-party tools, do a firmware update and reboot as well.
Report to the local authorities on the scam itself.
Report to the financial institution on the scam as well.
Lessons learned from this scam technique are that we need to stay vigilant and ensure that we do not respond too quickly even if it was our immediate family requesting for help. Learn to read, dissect the messages, and validate them to check and see if it is “real” or otherwise. Especially when it involves parting with your hard earn money. Stay safe out there!
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