IDCARE’s CROC team visited the New England region of NSW in late June.With many individuals already known to IDCARE throughout the district it was important to reconnect with some to further our understanding of their response journey, particularly in a regional setting.

One former client who lost more than $100,000 in a cryptocurrency scam was convinced she had found a reliable company to retrieve her missing funds. However through further investigation it appeared that, even though her original loss occurred in 2019, she was still potentially experiencing fraud. She paid $10,000 to a company who promised to find her money, but she would fist need to pay them a further $10,000. A booking was made to conduct Cyber First Aid on her devices and for our National Case Management Team to reopen her case. This unexpected intervention only occurred through the efforts of the CROC regional program. 

Another former client, a retired police officer of 35years, was initially extremely reticent about sharing his story. As a former law enforcement worker his embarrassment at falling victim to a remote access scam was front and centre during our visit. However by the end, and after hearing how widespread and lucrative such scams are, he acknowledged how grateful he was for the meeting and was very happy to hear his experience may prevent others from being scammed. He also undertook to be more open about his experience with his friends and family in the hope he may be a useful source of cyber resilience related information. 

Geoff from Tamworth had multiple fake bank accounts opened in his name. His was another case where he had no certainty over how his credentials were accessed by criminals. Aside from the issues of protecting the identity documents that were compromised, this was another instance of the necessity for long travel times to resolve the impact of identity crime. He spent more than $1000 in travel costs to get to Sydney in order to get the correct form to ensure his passport could be reissued. This is a regular story IDCARE is hearing as regional residents face the burden of not only piecing together their lives after fraud, but the extra burden of travelling to metropolitan centres to access support services or replace credentials. 

A cross section of community groups were contacted to receive more information about IDCARE’s suite of services. These included visitor information centres at Tamworth, Armidale and Narrabri; The Armajun Aboriginal Health organisation in Armidale; Council offices in Armidale,Tamworth and Narrabri; Robert and Morrow accountants in Armidale and the office of the member for Barwon, Roy Butler MP. Finally it was great to meet long term Australia Post branch manager Kath, who has been holding the fort at the tiny 100 year old Narrabri post office for several decades. The lovely little wooden building oozes character, and in discussion of our services and how we can help her customers, Kath was immediately aware of exactly who in her community she would be targeting. She also rolled her eyes at the seemingly never ending fake texts and emails telling her customers a parcel is waiting for collection or to update account details. Thankfully in many instances, despite her remote location, she was able to help prevent potential scams with sage advice, but was extremely grateful to have a new arsenal in her defences by way of IDCARE.

IDCARE met with the St George Tamworth staff, led by branch manager Dave Wallace. Staff shared stories of the types of scams they see, or suspicious customer behaviour they see regularly. A big talking point was the issue of how to convince customers that they may be under the influence of a scammer. This is where the ability to detect irregular behaviour is paramount for branch staff who may be asked to transfer significant amounts of money, or make peculiar withdrawals or deposits. Most instances this is straight forward, however Dave recounted several examples where despite the desperate pleading of he and his staff, there are some bank customers who are just simply unwilling to believe they are being scammed. This is an issue for all banks, and IDCARE runs specific training for organisations regarding scam compliance and intervention.  For more information, organisations can contact IDCARE at training@idcare.org