A New Low: Red Cross subject to Fraudulent Claims for Bushfire Grants by Cyber Thieves

By Cameron Abbott and Max Evans

If you thought cyber attackers couldn’t go any lower, think again. Cyber thieves are tying up valuable resources at the Australian Red Cross through computer generated applications for bushfire relief assistance, according to an article from the AAP.

According to the article, cyber thieves are using applications to automate hundreds of fraudulent attempts to access financial assistance from the Red Cross, which is distributing grants of up to $20,000 per application with a total grant of around $1,000,000 per day. In one community, there were applications made in respect of 15 homes that purportedly had been destroyed by bushfires, but when physically checked remained unaffected. Go figure!

A spokeswoman for the National Bushfire Recovery Agency has further warned of a SMS scam that entices people to click on a link and provide their personal information to receive an eight percent bonus on their tax return.

This highlights that even in the lowest of times, where efforts are focused on mitigating the widespread impact of a national disaster, cyber attackers lurk, ready to expose security weaknesses in order to gain personal information, and in this context, financial assistance. It therefore remains of universal importance for all entities, including not-for profit companies to have robust security mechanisms and processes in place to protect against cyber threats.

Copyright © 2019, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.