Live stream scammers target Consumer Protection Awards

Live stream scammers have targeted the Western Australian Consumer Protection Awards virtual event on Facebook prompting a warning from the consumer watchdog’s fraud prevention section WA ScamNet.

Due to COVID-19, the Consumer Protection Awards March 2020 in-person event was postponed and then cancelled, leading to a virtual Awards ceremony for the first time.

Commissioner Lanie Chopping says scammers who tried to hijack the live stream also tried to lure viewers away from other Facebook Live events being run by universities in Australia.

“Shortly before our awards were due to start, we became aware of several Facebook profiles attempting to divert viewers to a different page, by posting links to what they claimed to be the ‘CP Awards live event’. This happened in the comments section beneath the event’s banner image,” Ms Chopping said.

“The links led to a fake website that was branded with the CP Awards images and a media player. Clicking the play button led potential victims to a website claiming login was required and to click a button to create an account. The ultimate aim was to divert them to a ‘music and video’ subscription page that required credit card details.

“Fortunately, we had a team of moderators working on the event who we were able to delete the comments and ban the profiles and, to our knowledge, nobody has handed over personal information or lost any money in this phishing attempt.

“We were later made aware that the scammers were targeting another Facebook Live event in Perth hosted by a higher-education facility that was occurring at the same time. And the scammers then went on to target an event being held by a university over east.”

WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection had not been aware of scammers targeting Live events on social media in this way and public warnings will now be issued about live streaming scams.

“Thankfully about 60 groups watching at places like KidsafeWA and WA’s community legal centres had a really positive viewing experience and were unaware of the work going on behind the scenes to stop the scammers,” the Commissioner said.

“It’s disappointing that this annual event to reward and recognise the consumer protection achievements of West Australians – indeed many who try to prevent scams – was targeted in this way by scammers. It shows these fraudsters have no shame and will go to any lengths to trick people into parting with personal and secure information such as credit card details.”

Live stream scams appear to have emerged during COVID-19 when live stream events have become more popular due to social distancing restrictions. For example, overseas there have been live stream music events to replace concerts that have been hijacked by scammers.

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