An automated call scam that phones people up and claims they have won a travel prize is still dialling people, months after Qantas first alerted customers about it.
The scam emerged in early April 2014. According to the airline, travellers received a call to their landline or mobile phone and, if they answer, hear a recorded message that claims to be from Qantas. The message claims that because the person has recently booked a flight with the airline, he/she has won a travel prize or credit points worth $999 towards the next holiday.
To claim the prize, the customer is asked to press 1 on their phone. The person is then put through to a scammer who will ask if the traveller is over 30 years of age and if he/she has a valid credit card. The scammer then asks for the credit card details so that the prize can be processed.
However, if people hand over their credit card details, money will be siphoned out of their bank account.
The airline has advised people to hang up straight away if they receive one of these calls.
Qantas Airways tweeted yesterday, in reply to a customer who had received one of the calls, that it was aware of the scam. “This is a scam, please don't provide personal details,” read the tweet.
A Qantas spokesperson told Computerworld Australia that the scam involves fake calls purporting to be from both Qantas and Virgin. "We’ve issued repeated statements confirming that it’s a scam and asking customers not to take the calls seriously. We have also reported it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [ACCC] who issued this guidance to consumers." "We’re not really in a position to speculate about the origin or cause of the calls. Our priority is to make sure that customers are not misled by them," the spokesperson added.
An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) spokesperson confirmed that it has received an “increased number of reports” from people on the Do Not Call register about the Qantas scam calls in recent weeks. In addition, there have been variations on the company name used by the scammers.
“Members of the public have described the same content of the call – approximately $999 in free flights – however the automated call states it is from Webjet or Woolworths,” the spokesperson said. “The ACMA has not been able to identify that any legitimate business is making these calls.”
The spokesperson added that being listed on the Do Not Call register does not stop scam calls; it only stops legitimate businesses from calling people.
“Consumers need to be vigilant to the possibility of a scam when receiving any unsolicited call to their number.”
An ACCC spokesperson said the Qantas scam may still be operating because it originates from overseas. This makes it “very difficult” for Australian law enforcement authorities to track down and prosecute the scammers.
“If you lose money to a scam, it is unlikely that you will be able to recover your loss,” the ACCC spokesperson warned.
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick