At 54, Steve Fisher thought he would eventually realize his dream of owning a home of his own but it seems some hackers had other plans for him after stealing $ 90.000 from him.
Mr Fisher, a victim of sexual abuse by an Anglican priest, suffers daily from PTSD, anxiety and depression. But this year, he was justified - financially at least - by receiving compensation from the Anglican Church which he planned to use to buy a house in northwestern Tasmania.
The lawyer who carried out all the relevant purchase procedures residence, sent Fisher an email with the details and a bank account to transfer the $ 90.000.
After making the transfer, Mr Fisher said he received a phone call from his lawyer asking him where the money was - the email had been intercepted by a hacker and the account details changed.
Buyers of real estate are often targeted by hackers
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says Australians lost more than $ 130 million last year in email fraud.
ACCC Delia Rickard said the hack in which Mr Fisher fell victim was a classic email fraud, usually involving businesses. Hackers steal emails and change bank details by redirecting money to their own accounts.
"It was the number one cause of money loss in 2019," he said. He also said that real estate buyers are a common target of hackers. "When our lawyer sends us an email asking us to transfer money to an account, we should also do a telephone confirmation of the details," said Delia Rickard.
Michael Connory, researcher cyber security, said that cyber fraud carried out via email has doubled compared to last year.
"As soon as COVID-19 appeared on March 13, we saw the numbers of attacks skyrocket and have not decreased at all since then, on the contrary they continue to rise," Mr Connory said.
From June last year until this year, there was a 127% increase in these types of attacks. Users are much more vulnerable as they work from home (using their own computers and WiFi).
The money was returned to Mr. Fisher
Mr Fisher is one of the lucky ones. After finding out what had happened, he contacted the two banks from which he had transferred the money and by the Tasmanian Police. Police located the hacker in Queensland - even its name and address. But when they went to that address, no one with that name stayed there.
A Queensland Police spokesman said the man may not even be real, but a notice has been issued if he reappears. The investigation into Mr Fisher's case remains open.
"We were so lucky to get our money back - talking about him and his wife - it was unbelievable, most people can't make it," Fisher said. It took four weeks to recover the money. Mr Fisher said at the time he did not know if they were lost forever. "I never want anyone to feel like I did during that month," Fisher said.