Alex’s Tech Tips

Alex ZR sq

May Day, May Day, scams ahoy!

I know Brett often talks about scams, but I have to share the two SMS messages I received in the last couple of weeks, which are definitely designed to catch out the unwary, and either infect your iPhone or Android if it is using an out-of-date operating system, or to try and scam you into paying money or doing something else that just isn’t safe for you, your sanity, your digital identity or your bank balance. 

Screenshot of a scam text message to Alex purporting to be from Australia Post

The first SMS message I received, which is pictured, purports to be from Australia Post. It starts off with my name, and explicitly states there is a delivery status update. I am actually expecting packages to arrive and get regular updates from the Australia Post app, but if I was busy with work, frazzled by endless Zoom meetings, dealing with “the kids” (that I don’t have but many obviously do) or otherwise not properly paying attention, I might miss that the included URL looks unusual, while also having the veneer of plausibility. 

I’ve read reports online that this message has appeared in the same stream of messages that existing Australia Post messages arrive into your inbox, as they are “spoofing” the “caller ID” of the text message sender, but that didn’t happen in my case, it was a random 04 number you can see in the message. 

Naturally, I didn’t click. 

The second message is also weird. It purports to be a voicemail message from my doctor, but has weird spaces in between the words “you’re”, “message” and “from”. The URL makes no attempt at a veneer of plausibility, it is flat out very weird looking and a giant red flag, but presumably, people have clicked on this link as well in a moment of weakness or inattention. 

A screenshot of an SMS sent to Alex, purportedly from his Doctor - the text has strange spacings between characters in the words

Again, these scams are designed to either infect phones that are use non-updated operating systems for which there are known vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited, or which will try to fool you into thinking the web page you’re taken to is legitimate, at which point they will try to extract your username and password, or other details, such as credit card numbers and more. 

So, please be extremely wary of these messages, which come just weeks after Telstra’s early April announcement that it had been successful in blocking more such spam SMS messages than ever, which you can see at its Exchange blog.  

Clearly, such pronouncements are red rags to a bull, the bad guys are presumably only emboldened further to try and defeat the system, so the only way to truly protect yourself, besides ensuring your apps and operating systems are up to date, is to actively take steps to avoid being “the weakest link,” and being the thing that is actually being “hacked”, rather than the phone or computer itself. 

So, please be careful! Pay attention and know that scammers are trickier than ever before.

Ok, well, I’ve got to go. I just got an email telling me that I won several million dollars in a European email lottery that I never entered, but with inflation at an all-time high, and only going to go higher, the money will come in very handy. There are three princesses from Monte Carlo that I’ll be able to spend the money on who I’ve been in contact with over Facebook over the past few months, can you believe my luck?!

And good news – I’m now the new owner of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – that toll money will be mine! I bought it last week from a very intriguing post on Twitter. Bargain! It means I don’t have to worry about the exorbitant customs fees that I have to pay on several packages stuck at the border that Australia Post just sent me text messages about. Phew!

Stay safe and don’t forget to laugh.

Alex Zaharov-Reutt
ASCCA Director – Promotions and Sponsorship