At 91 Victor Twartz would have to be the world’s oldest drug mule. The ABC news feature (link above) highlights the growing threat of crime by coercing susceptible targets over the internet. The threat is becoming all-pervasive, and is not just limited to the obvious scam activities of West African crime syndicates.
Scarcely a week passes but my wife and I, being retirees, receive blatant or less obviously bogus phone calls, or internet attempts to mislead us, and extort our limited funds.
The attempts are threatening to become a flood. Emails purporting to be from financial institutions seek to discover our banking details. Adware spam is planted on one’s computer that cannot be easily removed by novice owners; and then remarkably, ads appear offering solutions for the problem at a price. Then there is the tsunami of advertising spam that appears unwanted, and is usually left unread, attempting to tempt the purchaser to buy services and goods of limited value to them.
Notification is pointless. Authorities with limited finances and resources show no interest in pursuing perpetrators.
Last week our phone spam took a worrying new turn, from the usual Microsoft authorised overseas calls that offered to clear one’s computer of unwanted files compromising performance. On consecutive days my wife received two phone calls, claiming to be from the Taxation Office, warning her that she had failed to declare interest income for which she could be imprisoned if she failed to pay.
She did not act of course, but to her concern, a few days later she received a letter from the Tax Department, stating that her declared income on the return submitted by her accountant had failed to include dividend payments in her name. Her bank was given as the source of the information, even although the relevant investments were with an unrelated broking firm.
The alleged undeclared income was not ours but for a relative’s account on which my wife acts as a Trustee. The error was not ours, but how did scammers come into possession of this confidential information? Since then I have discovered that others have received similar threatening calls, some of whom have paid under duress and lost their money.
It is time that our government took the initiative, and established a department to trace and punish those who profit in this way. A failure to act will only undermine public confidence in e-commerce.