Derrick Den Hollander

Why you're a net target

A SUNSHINE Coast businesswoman has become the target of a new type of Nigerian scam that could easily make any computer user a mark for a sting.

Liz See’s friends were told she had been robbed and held at gunpoint in Scotland.

The Get Threaded salon owner and her husband were on a day off at a family member’s 80th birthday in Kingaroy on Saturday when business associates and friends besieged her with calls.

About 1500 of Ms See’s email contacts received an urgent message supposedly from her.

“How are you doing? Honestly I’m doing awful. I’m with family visiting Aberdeen, Scotland.

“We got robbed last night at gunpoint by a gang of thugs on our way back from a concert.

“One of them had a gun pointing to my face and he told me to give him all my stuff or he would shoot if I moved.”

A second email was sent five hours later. It said Ms See could not be contacted by phone, requesting $650 or $750 to cover expenses to return home on the Coast.

Instructions are given to “wire the money to my name” from a Western Union outlet, with an address in the UK.

It is a new twist to the traditional “Nigerian” email scam in which recipients receive requests for money from people they do not know.

Ms See, whose eyebrow and facial hair removal business is in Maroochydore, said she was horrified when she started receiving the frantic phone calls.

“It was the worst feeling in the world,” she said. “My email account had been hijacked and I could not access it with my password.”

Ms See said she told several off-duty police at the party that her email had redirected her contacts to a Yahoo email address.

By 7pm on Saturday, Ms See had her email account back.

The scammers had closed the Yahoo account by 9am on Sunday.

Queensland Police fraud and corporate crime group detective superintendent Brian Hay said it was becoming all too easy for scammers to harvest information.

“These are challenges that will be on the horizon for a long time to come,” Supt Hay said.

“But there are some fundamentals which will mitigate the chances of you being targeted.”

Ms See said she does not believe any of her contacts sent the money.

How to avoid being a victim

  • Curiosity could kill the cat: if opening attachments from unknown senders. Delete, delete immediately
  • Out of date anti-virus programs will not provide needed protection. Get the latest security protection
  • Do not throw open Facebook or other similar networking sites to the world

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