Man arrested over phishing email scam

A 24-year-old man was arrested over the weekend after he was suspected of carrying out a phishing attack in Vienna. The victim was a 34-year-old woman who ran a company.

Man arrested over phishing email scam
Someone looking at a bank statement. File photo: APA

The woman received an email purporting to be from her bank on July 1st, which investigators said was very convincing. She answered the email and gave details of the data her ‘bank’ had asked her for.

Someone then made several cash withdrawals from her account, amounting to almost €50,000 (US$68,000).

The woman asked the bank to lock her account, and when someone tried to withdraw money on Saturday a warning alarm was triggered by the bank.

Police arrested the suspect in a bank branch in Vienna’s Favoriten district.

Investigators are now checking the man’s computer and mobile phone to see if there have been other victims of the phishing scam. They are also trying to determine if other people were involved in the scam.

Phishing emails are becoming more professional and convincing, according to the Austrian internet platform Watchlist Internet.

Here are some tips from police on how to protect yourself from a phishing attack:

No reputable company or bank will ask you by email or phone to provide personal data such as passwords. Be especially cautious of emails that come from unrecognized senders and ask you to confirm personal or financial information over the Internet and/or make urgent requests for this information.

When conducting online transactions, like internet banking or shopping, look for a sign that the site is secure such as a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a “https:” URL whereby the “s” stands for “secure sockets layer” rather than a “http:”.

Always check the address bar of the web browser. Often, you only need to look at it to realize that it is not is a real site.

Beware of phone phishing schemes. Do not divulge personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call. Be cautious of emails that ask you to call a phone number to update your account information as well.

If you notice unusual things on a website you use for online transactions – such as spelling and grammar errors, or poor quality graphics compared to the previous appearance of the website, do not enter any of your data or passwords, but leave the site immediately and close the web browser!

Protect your computer with a firewall, spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Do some research to ensure you are getting the most up-to-date software, and update them all regularly to ensure that you are blocking new viruses and spyware.

As far as possible, do not use the same password for multiple services such as email accounts, online shopping accounts, and social networking. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. It should be at least eight characters long and consist of a random sequence of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

Finally, beware a need breed of malware, called ransom-ware.  This type of virus will encrypt all your data, and blackmail you for a $500 or more fee to recover it – so make sure you have frequent and reliable backups.


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