A Queensland woman has told how she became the victim of sophisticated hackers over the phone.
A Queensland woman has told how she became the victim of sophisticated hackers over the phone.

Qld scam victim: Hackers threatened to take daughter

A QUEENSLAND woman who lost $10,000 to 'convincing' hackers has told of how they threatened to take her young daughter.

Anthea, who did not want to give her last name, said the family's ordeal began they they received a call from someone claiming they were from a well known Australian telco and internet service provider.

"At first I hung up, but after the second phone call they told us our computer had been hacked, and they needed to access our bank account to find out more about the hackers, and essentially leave a blood trail to trace them,'' she told News Regional Media.

"After asking lots of questions they seemed genuine as they also had ID numbers etc so I relented and shared information fearing we might lose money if I didn't.

"While I was suspicious at first they were very convincing and had a rational answer for everything.

"The hackers entered our computer system, and disabled our security software and we lost about $10,000 from our bank accounts.

"As I began to realise the situation, they began to start threatening our family as I had a picture of my family on our desktop, and they sent threats saying they knew where we live and they would hurt or take our daughter,'' the disturbed mum said.

"We reported it, and have had to change our passwords for everything. It has only just been resolved."

The family, who lives in a rural area just beyond Toowoomba, said the ordeal was a very upsetting time for her and her husband.

She never thought she would become a victim of cybercrime.

"I felt like I was technologically savvy and had the right things in place to prevent something like this from happening.

"I never thought that they would be so bold as to ring you personally and actually gain your trust like that.

"We live in a rural area so I guess I probably felt a bit protected by that as well but that's not enough anymore. They can find you no matter where you are."

Looking back, she admits there are things that raised a red flag.

"But at the time when it was happening they were extremely professional in what they were doing and as much as I hate to say it they had complete control over what they wanted me to do.

The mum says she has since taken steps to increase security on all of her devices as much as possible.
And she has good advice for others.

"If you receive a call from a company, ask for the representatives name and ID number and a reference and say you will call them back.

"When you call the company ask them to check this ID number etc before speaking with the representative."
Anthea is not alone in being hit by scammers.

Over the past year, almost one in three Australians (30%) have experienced cybercrime, according to the the key findings the 2018 Norton LifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report.

As a result of cyber crime, the average Aussie lost an estimated AU$240 and spent almost 7 hours (6.6 hours) trying to resolve the resulting issues.

The most common cyber crimes ever experienced by Australians include:

  • 26 per cent of people have detected malicious software on a computer, Wi-Fi network smartphone, tablet, smart home or other connected device.
  • 14 per cent detected unauthorised access on an online banking of other financial account.
  • 12 per cent detected unauthorised access on an email account.

Nearly three in four (73 per cent) Australians are more alarmed than ever about their privacy.

But Australians want control of their privacy, but without hassle or cost. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents claim they want to do more to protect their privacy, yet the majority will accept certain risks to their online privacy to make life more convenient (68 per cent).

The pursuit of convenience sees respondents also claim they are willing to freely give or sell companies personal information such as identification information (15% would give for free, 19% would sell), internet search history (16% would give for free, 30% would sell) and location (19% would give for free, 32% would sell).


Use a robust multi-platform security solution, such as Norton Security Premium, and update it regularly.

Never open suspicious-looking emails: Cyber criminals send fake emails or texts that may look legitimate. The links in these emails or texts contain malicious software that can download malware and spyware. 

Make use of a VPN on public Wi-Fi: Many public Wi-Fi connections are unencrypted. This could give cyber criminals a chance to snoop on data being sent and received by your device. In some cases, attackers create fake Wi-Fi hotspots purporting to be legitimate networks.

Own your online presence: Carefully read the terms and conditions before opening an account or downloading an application, including social media accounts.

Get two steps ahead and manage your passwords: Switch on two-step verification or multi-factor authentication wherever offered to prevent unauthorised access to your online accounts. Always change the default passwords to something strong and unique on your devices, services, and Wi-Fi networks.

Educate your child about online safety: Don't just tell them to be careful online, show them how. Spend time with your child online and guide them through how to have a positive relationship with technology.

Be cautious of over-sharing your child's life on social media: You are creating your child's digital identity. Ensure your social media posts present your child in a positive way.