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High-tech Facebook scam cons grandmother out of $10,000 with just one click: ‘Humiliated’

It was only after a quick phone call that Sally realised she'd been scammed.

An Aussie grandmother has been conned out of $10,000 after a high-tech Facebook scam made her believe she was sending the huge sum of money to a friend.

Sally Marchant received a message from her friend on the social media site just before Christmas and she thought nothing was amiss.

Little did the Perth woman know, this mate had been hacked by scammers using artificial intelligence (AI) and they were using the profile to convince people to send money to their account. Marchant was told that if she sent the ‘friend’ $10,000, she would get $200,000 back.

Scam victim Sally Marchant typing on her computer
Sally Marchant didn't realise scammers had hacked into her friend's Facebook account before she transferred $10,000. (Source: 9News)

Have you been the victim of a scam? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

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"They were really encouraging, saying, 'Yeah do it, do it'," the 59-year-old explained to 9News. "I really believed I was talking to my friend, messaging him."

She pulled the money out of her mortgage and, with one click, the money was sent.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch told Yahoo Finance scammers were regularly using more sophisticated software.

“With the emergence of new technologies, Scamwatch continues to see growing sophistication in scam approaches and is alert to the risks AI presents,” a spokesperson said.

“This makes scams harder for the community to identify. The community should continue to approach any requests for personal information or money with caution and exercise caution when clicking on hyperlinks.”

Marchant said that almost immediately after transferring the money she felt something was off. Only after she transferred the cash did she call the friend to double-check it was legitimate. Unfortunately for her, that’s when her mistake was revealed.

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"So I phoned him and physically spoke to him and he just went, 'No, no', he knew nothing about it,” she said. "You could have spent that on so many other wonderful things. So I was cross with myself, I was quite humiliated.”

Some scammers have also been able to mimic a person’s voice during a phone call or in a voice note to make the heist seem far more convincing.

“They can be created with as little as three seconds of audio taken from a social media post, voicemail or video on a website,” NAB’s advisory awareness manager, Laura Hartley, told Yahoo Finance.

“We know they are happening in the UK and US, in particular, and anticipate it’s just a matter of time before these scams head Down Under.”

What should I do if I think I’ve been scammed?

  • Contact your bank and report the scam. Ask them to stop transactions and stop sending any money.

  • Report the scam to Scamwatch here and make an official complaint to police here.

  • Watch out for follow-up scams, particularly ones promising they can get your money back. Scamwatch warned one in three victims of a scam are scammed more than once.

  • Get support for yourself. You can talk to a financial counsellor or reach out to BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or here for an online chat or Lifeline for crisis support online here on 13 11 14.

  • You can also contact IDCARE to “reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation”.

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