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Woman loses $500,000 to online scam: How to beat hackers

What to do when you've been scammed. Source: Getty
What to do when you've been scammed. Source: Getty

Melbourne art curator, Jade, thought she was emailing her conveyancer about the purchase of her new home, but, unwittingly, she transferred $500,000 to online hackers.

Third party hackers had intercepted the email chain between Jade and the conveyancer, and were replying to both parties.

"It was absolutely horrifying and traumatic. But more than anything, it was incredibly confusing," Jade told 7NEWS.

Jade managed to recover the money after contacting security computer hacker, Michael Connery, to hunt for the stolen cash.

While Jade may have been lucky enough to get her money back from scammers, her experience shines a light on just how common these scams are.

One Aussie told ScamWatch they lost $50,000 to scammers claiming to engage in online trading. Another lost $20,000 to a fake online dating scam.

Here’s what to do if your emails have been hacked:

Cyber security experts, McAfee, say if you find yourself a victim of email hacking, you need to do the following, and fast.

1 . Change your password

Make sure your new password is complex and totally unrelated to the previous password. Always use eight to 10 characters with a variety of upper and lower case, and throw in some symbols and numbers.

2. Let your email contacts know

McAfee said hackers like to get their claws into your address book, so send a message to your email contacts as soon as possible so they know to avoid opening any emails from you.

3. Change your security question

If you have a security question associated with your email account, you should change this too - and they advise to make it unpredictable and niche.

4. Scan your computer for malware and viruses

Hackers know that many of us use the same logins for multiple accounts, so it’s guaranteed they will try to use your information in things like PayPal, Amazon and Netflix. Best to scan for malware to avoid this happening.

Here’s how to keep your money safe online:

1. Up the ante with mobile banking apps

McAfee’s consumer online safety advocate, Alex Merton-McCann, told Yahoo Finance that you should alway say ‘yes’ to your bank’s security offerings like multi-factor authentication, daily transfer limits and transfer notifications.

2. Never store your credit card details online

“It’s very common for people to save their credit card details on websites or apps they regularly use as it saves them from entering the details every single time,” Merton-McAnn said. “However, saving your credit card details online can be a big problem in the event your device is lost or stolen or a data breach.”

3. Use strong passwords

“Passwords should be a minimum of 8 characters with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

“It is also recommended to have a different password for every site and to regularly change your passwords.”

4. Do a ‘spring clean’ of your devices to check where your info is being stored

“Old devices, outdated applications and accounts that you haven’t accessed in years often hold onto your personal information including credit card details without you even realising, leaving you vulnerable to cybercriminals.

“Give yourself some peace of mind by doing a ‘digital spring clean’, going through all of your devices, accounts and applications and erasing any personal and financial information from those you no longer use.”

And here’s how to get your money back from online scams:

1. Check your bank account for any suspicious transactions

2. Call your bank to report the scam

If you’ve lost money in a scam, they may be able to stop a money transfer or close your account if the scammer has your account details. Credit card providers might also be able to perform ‘charge backs’ and reverse the transaction.

3. Ask the bank to freeze your accounts

4. File a police report if the scammer has accessed money

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