Scamming through fear

According to Scam Watch in March 2019 there were 14,244 reports of successful scams in Australia with a total of $10,625,617. This is just for March!

Scamming is a big issue. Bigger than most of us probably realise.

Over the last few weeks we have learned about the cycle of social engineering. Famous hacker Kevin Mitnick describes it best:

1. Research:

This involves gathering information about the target. The result is dependent on the quality of the information collected at this stage. The data collected is utilized in succeeding phases and is of crucial importance in making the attack successful.

2. Developing Rapport and Trust:

Various types of social engineering techniques are deployed in this phase to ensure the victim trusts the attacker. The data collected in the first phase, such as public name, employer’s details, and company details, are used to make the victim believe they are truly dealing with the organization.

3. Exploiting Trust:

Attackers manipulate human behaviour and exploit trust and stealthily steal the desired information. This can be executed in multiple ways, for example email spoofs, scam phone calls, or malware installation.

4. Utilize Information:

This final phase is also referred to as “cashing in”, where the information gained from the previous phases is used to perpetrate the attack.

But step 2 is an interesting one. Believe it or not, as humans we inherently trust others, especially those who appear to be an authority. But this trust can be manipulated with another trait all humans share.


A quick and easy way for a scammer to exploit their victim is to use Fear. This could be Fear of Loneliness or fear of prosecution or even fear of missing out.

Just look over at the ATO site. There are new scams ever other month. They are sophisticated and all use fear to get a quick response out of the victim. The scammer will ask for immediate payment of an outstanding tax debt and threaten arrest or legal action if you do not comply. This Fear based approach is very effective – especially on the elderly. The scammer will be very prepared and have many excuses and reasons why you cannot be transferred or call back.

Knowledge is Power.

The key to protecting yourself from being a victim is to question everything. Do not assume that just because someone has your details that they are who they say they are. Everyone is well within their rights to ask for additional information from the supposed authority or to ask to speak to someone else. Don’t allow the pressure the caller is applying to affect your judgment.

Other tips

  • A government agency or trusted company will never ask you to pay by unusual methods such as by gift or store cards, iTunes vouchers, wire transfers or Bitcoins.
  • Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller. Stop, think and check whether their story is true.
  • If you receive a phone call from someone threatening you and asking you to pay a fee, hang up and do not respond.
  • Be Vigilant!

If you feel you have been a scamming victim but are unsure, please call us on 1300 795 395. We can go through any concerns or information you have to help figure it out.

At National IT we don’t just have the best technology helping to protect you, we also have the best people that will listen and help in any way they can.