Casino Email & Phone Scam Surge Warns ACMA

Punters across Australia are being hit with swathes of phishing emails and SMS impersonating casinos offering free cash bonuses. So far, the messages most frequently come from companies claiming to be offshore betting platforms and encourage recipients to click on a link by promising them the reward of a free online casino bonus prize.

Laptop and smartphone emails.

Attackers are targeting Australian casino players in a coordinated campaign of phishing emails and phone scams reports the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). ©ribkhan/Pixabay

The significant spike in phishing attempts on Australian customers is concerning for a number of reasons. Primarily, the speed at which this scam appears to be gaining momentum, incorporating vast amounts of email addresses, in a targeted attempt at individuals likely to be users of online casino products.

Supplementary to that, the damage that the embedded malware can cause to a target machine can be catastrophic for the privacy of personal data. As computer viruses often propagate very quickly, entire networks can be compromised if one vulnerable machine is exploited by the scammers.

So far, the action taken by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been to issue warnings across their network, informing their registered licensees of the threat that exists.

The organization is also taking a direct approach to mitigate the new phishing surge, launching a Scams Action Plan in the coming weeks that will tighten up cybersecurity, protection of customer mobile phone numbers and issuing real-time alerts to people regarding ongoing scam threats.

Nasty and Widespread Scam

As all economics students will know, there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. That temptation to take on a risky purchase of something that seems too good to be true is a difficult one to resist. But as society becomes ever-wiser to the threat posed by internet fraud and phishing scams, the criminals have been constantly adapting and improving and their manipulative strategies of exploitation.

Given the seriousness of the threat against a large portion of Australian online casino customers, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has rightly stepped in and issued the scam alert warning. The message was submitted across the registered customer base of registers operators, and advised individuals to be wary of suspicious emails and SMS messages claiming to be from casinos offering real-money bonuses and free credit.

The belief unanimously held by the statutory authorities investigating the issue is that this crime is widespread, and appears to be circulating through a leaked database of over 6000 email addresses.

Discussing the impending security threat, and sharing some words of wisdom to those potentially vulnerable to this new style of spear-phishing emails, ACMA committee chair, Fiona Cameron, explained:

There’s no such thing as free money. Don’t let yourself be conned into believing you have any credit or bonuses with these casinos – you don’t. This is a particularly nasty and widespread scam that attempts to prey on people with gambling problems. Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.Report, Inside Asia Gaming

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) goes on to detail that the most common sites the scammers claim to come from are all offshore gambling operators, such as Roo Casino, Pokie Spins, Syndicate Casino and Bonza Spins.

ACMA Combating Scams Action Plan

In order to fight the growing threat arising from targeted spear-phishing email campaigns, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) compiled a series of enforceable recommendations for customers, regulators and online casinos. The Combating Scams report highlights the importance for the immediate implementation of a number of different scam mitigation initiatives.

The report outlines two phone scams that have been ripping through the online gambling customer base as of late. The first, known as “spoofing” is where scammers disguise their number to look like it comes from a legitimate organization, and the second is “Wangiri scams”, where scammers attempt to coerce the recipient to call back an international number with high premium charges.

With work to combat the effect of both scams already underway, a Do Not Originate list has been circulated amongst phone number directory offices. The list allows phone companies to share a pre-approved list of safe numbers such as banks, tax authorities and other legitimate organizations which then cannot be used by scammers to impersonate them.

The Combating Scams Action Plan has involved a joint collaboration between the online casino industry and government, sharing information, reviewing international best practices, and taking action in pursuit of a common goal. This latest action follows a series of measures to enforce stricter age controls, reduce the risk of gambling and protect players.

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