The CROC team continued traversing the nation, heading into Western Australia for the winter months, from March until July. The WA premier and Cabinet partnership saw us delivering over 20 clinics across the state, comprising community events at libraries, markets and town halls.
One of the more powerful moments occurred in a session south of Perth. Local police had asked for IDCARE’s assistance to intervene with a lady convinced she was in a long-term relationship with the actor Tom Cruise. She sighted years of messaging, his fan photos sourced from the official Tom Cruise Facebook page, and their imminent plans to be together when he came to live with her. Despite the lessons learned from the session she had just sat through and the concerns expressed by her community members, including the police, the lady in Western Australia was remarkably unwilling to accept that her long-term relationship with actor Tom Cruise was not real. Even after being provided with specific examples by IDCARE in a one-on-one conversation covering similar cases where money is lost in romance scams, she remained convinced that her relationship with the actor was genuine. This is a powerful reminder of the strength of the bonds created by highly sophisticated scams that use complex psychological techniques to entangle their victims.
Another standout case was found in the grain districts inland from Perth, where fraudulent tax refunds were issued. A single mother was distraught at how such a complex case could have occurred without any known direct involvement from her. Her last seven ATO returns were amended, and new refunds were issued to an unknown bank account. This also triggered a letter to be sent from Centrelink with a request for overpayment of benefits to be returned, causing stress over debt she hadn’t accrued. This shows that many will have no feasible role in the scam that affects them. They may have been involved in a data breach, clicked a link and unknowingly downloaded spyware or had some ID taken from their physical mailing address. Another key takeaway was the complexity of how the scam unfolded. Multi-factor codes, phone number porting, password cracking, ID access to get into MyGov, all used as part of the scam. The final take away was the human toll it had taken on the individual. With young children, no partner to assist, living in a remote location, confusion about what else may be at risk with her ID compromised and many hours ahead of her trying to sort the mess out. She was enormously relieved to have met the IDCARE team by accident. She was immediately referred to our experts at the National Case Management Centre.
In Broome, we had a great session with the Westpac Team, who had organised a special co-production with IDCARE and a customer event with the local RSL Club. It is a wonderfully eclectic club with no permanent walls, just a roof and lots of fresh tropical air wafting through the CROC session, keeping everyone comfortable. Local Broome Westpac branch manager Melissa Ugle has extensive ties within the Broome community, which led to a great turnout. We talked specifically about some of the key security features available to Westpac customers during this event, such as the dynamic CVC, which creates a digital version of a credit card via the Westpac app and then changes every 24 hours. This feature is often discussed in our cyber sessions and is always interesting to current and prospective Westpac customers.
Into the NT, to Darwin, the team had one of their more diverse groups of people to engage with, attending the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association annual conference. Joining the likes of Telstra, ANZ, Royal Flying Doctors and a range of top Brisbane Boarding schools, IDCARE were amongst the trade exhibits during the two-day conference. Speakers covered various topics relating to issues with living in a remote location, such as access to adequate services, with many similar core themes shared by the messages at the core of CROC. The event was a huge success, with all delegates highly impressed with our commitment to regional Australia, with much goodwill shared and taken back to their various remote farms dotted across the country.
The stories from these regions emphasise the need for ongoing vigilance, education, and collaboration to ensure the safety and security of all Australians. With the knowledge shared during these sessions, we hope remote communities are better equipped to navigate the digital world and protect themselves from cyber threats, fostering a safer and more connected Australia!