AN Ararat woman has warned of a particularly nasty phone scam that appears to be targeting the spouses of people who recently died.
The woman, who asked for her name not to be used, received a phone call asking for her husband, who died a few months ago.
“When I told the caller that he had passed away, she didn’t even flinch. She said he owed money,” the Ararat widow said.
“I told her that I had paid all the bills and then she said my husband owned money to women as he was their sugar daddy.”
The widow said she was highly distressed to hear an accusation by a stranger that her husband had been paying other women to be in a relationship with him.
“I was awake all night,” she said.
“But I knew my husband for 45 years and I can account for everything that went through our bank account.”
The Ararat widow suspected that scammers had been using death notices to gather details to target the families of recently deceased persons with embarrassing allegations in the hope that they will pay to make the issue go away.
“The caller said she would send me a bill. I told her to go right ahead as I would pass their bill on to the federal police,” the widow said.
“Then I hung up on them.
“I’d recommend to other people just to hang up if they get calls like this.”
Despite the proliferation of email, social networking and other digital communications, more than 30 per cent of scams reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission occurred over the phone.
In cases of scams that involve threats or extortion, 53 per cent of attempts were made over the phone.
The ACCC Scamwatch website’s advice for people targeted by extortion scams is:
- Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller. Stop, think and check whether their story is true.
- If you receive a phone call from someone threatening you and asking you to pay a fee, hang up and do not respond.
- Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email or over the phone.
- If you are concerned for your safety, contact the police.