AT least one Central West business has been caught up in an online scam, with reports of Orange residents being hooked, too.
The email-based scam has already sent fraudulent traffic infringement notices to thousands of people across Australia.
Dubbo’s Fortnum Financial Advisers’ Sandy Dunshea was first alerted to the scam on Friday evening when his mobile began ringing non-stop.
People from as far away as Tasmania and Brisbane complained they had received an email from Mr Dunshea with a traffic infringement notice for $154.80.
Anyone who clicked on the ‘download infringement notice’ or ‘unsubscribe from this list’ links forwarded the email to their own contacts.
By Monday morning Mr Dunshea had received more than 1200 emails and 200 phone calls from people questioning the notice, or trying to alert him to the scam.
“This went out on the sixth for an infringement on the fifth so people that are reasonably savvy have said I wasn’t in Dubbo on the fifth, or it has come from a financial planner and they don’t send out infringement notices,” he said.
“Unfortunately they have used my name and my business name and while we’ve had phone calls from people in Trangie, Warren and Dubbo there’s also people from Tasmania. It’s very widespread.”
There are reports online of Orange residents being caught in the scam.
Police had already been alerted to the scam by the time Mr Dunshea reported it.
IT specialists in Sydney have confirmed Fortnum’s internal client database has not been compromised.
But Mr Dunshea feared the incident had already done damage to his, and Fortnum’s’, reputation.
“On Friday night my iPhone was just going ping ping ping ping! And I was thinking how serious is this going to get? What is it going to look like on Monday?” he said.
“We’re not sure what the total impact is going to be but I’m very, very concerned about the reputation of our business. We have worked very, very hard over the last 28 years to build up a solid business.
“I thought out of decency I would respond to the emails, but it just buried me. I had to give up.”
He has urged people to be very wary of any emails from unknown sources.
“Be very careful what you open,” he said.
“If you don’t know the source of it, you’re better off deleting it.”