Woolworths' urgent warning to customers about $500 scam

Woolworths have alerted shoppers to a dangerous gift card scam currently landing in customers’ email inboxes.

A savvy customer tipped off Woolworths to the fraudulent email, which he received in his inbox from scammers posing as the supermarket.

“Just wanted to pass what I received today through email,” wrote the concerned customer, alongside a screenshot of the fake Woolworths email.

The phishing scam email, which uses Woolworths branding to trick customers, is designed to lure customers to click on a link by offering them a $500 Woolworths gift card.

screenshot of woolworths gift card phishing scam email
The ‘phishing’ email lures customers to click a link by offering them a $500 Woolworths gift card. Source: Facebook

The subject line of the deceptive email reads: “Your exclusive Gift Card is ready! Please confirm receipt!”

However, a quick glance at the sender’s email address confirms it was not sent by the official Woolworths email and is a phishing scam.

Phishing scams are a way that cybercriminals steal personal information, such as online banking logins, credit card details, passwords and login credentials by sending deceptive emails such as this one.

These emails often look legitimate, which is why even the most savvy people can sometimes fall prey.

Woolworths logo on a smartphone with a high tech background. Source: Getty Images
Woolworths warn customers that scammers are attempting to trick them into giving them sensitive information. Source: Getty Images

A Woolworths representative quickly responded to the skeptical shopper to confirm the email was fake.

“Please know that the email is a 'phishing' scam and not from us. It's actually a scammer who's attempting to trick people into giving out their personal and banking information,” wrote Woolworths.

“Be mindful that we'd never ask our customers for their personal or banking details in unsolicited communications.”

‘Don’t click’: Woolworths warns customers

Woolworths warn customers via their Scam Alert page that they should be suspicious of any emails that create a sense of urgency, contain unrelated links and attachments, request sensitive information or are from people that don’t usually contact you.

“At Woolworths, we like our customers to be equipped with information and to be aware of what to look for and the difference between genuine communication we may send you vs a scam,” reads the Woolworths Scam Alerts page.

On the page, Woolworths urges shoppers to “think before you click and do not give away any information that can be identifiable to you,” while providing examples of recent scams targeting customers.

Screenshot of Woolworths anniversary code phishing email scam. Source: Woolworths Group
A recent Woolworths phishing scam email claims the customer has been nominated for a special 'anniversary code'. Source: Woolworths Group

One of the most recent email phishing scams circulating involves a fake email claiming the customer has been nominated for a special “anniversary code”. The email lures customers to click the link to check their code.

Woolworths urges customers to forward any suspicious messages directly to hoax@woolworths.com.au and delete it from their mailbox.

Aussies lose over $192 million so far this year

According to Scamwatch, which is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australians have lost $192,683,367 to scams so far in 2021.

The data is based on 191,991 reports of online scams spanning January to August 2021, which were provided to the ACCC by web form and over the phone.

There is a clear correlation between statewide lockdowns and a rise in scam reports, which jumped by almost 32 per cent from April to June in 2021.

Scamwatch graph showing top 10 scams by amount lost. Source: Scamwatch
According to Scamwatch, Australians have lost more than $192 million to scams so far in 2021. Source: Scamwatch

Investment scams were the biggest offenders, costing Aussies over $96 million, followed by romance scams, false billing, remote access scams, threats to life, arrest and identity theft.

“Investment scams are more prevalent than ever, and scammers are capitalising on interest in cryptocurrency in particular,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

“More than half of the $70 million in losses were to cryptocurrency, especially through Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency scams were also the most commonly reported type of investment scam, with 2,240 reports.”

Investment scammers pretend to have highly profitable trading systems based on individual expertise, or through algorithms they developed.

Victims will initially be able to access small returns sourced from other victims’ initial deposits, but the scammers soon claim problems with making withdrawals and cut off the contact.

“Be wary of investment opportunities with low risk and high returns. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Ms Rickard said.

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