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Westpac ‘Quick Survey’ Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Email purporting to be from Australia’s Westpac Bank claims that the recipient can have a reward of up to $100 credited to their account in exchange for clicking a link or opening an attachment and filling in a short survey.

Brief Analysis

The email is not from Westpac. The bogus survey is designed to trick recipients into divulging their credit card details and other personal information to cybercriminals.  

Examples

Subject: Members Satisfaction Survey

Dear valued member, Westpac Survey Department selected you to take part in our quick survey.

To earn yours 100$ reward click:
[Link Removed]

 

Subject: Westpac Online Banking Survey !

Take part in our 5 question survey and Westpac Bank will add $44.00 AUD credit to your account. Download Survey and complete the form. It`s fast and easy !

Note: Message contains a bogus form in an attached file. See screenshots in following example.

 

Dear Westpac Bank Customer,

Westpac Bank will add $35.00 AUD credit to your account just for taking part in our quick 5 question survey.
Download Survey and complete the form.It’s fast and easy!

[Screenshots of attached HTML file]

Westpac Survey Phishing Scam 2

Westpac Survey Phishing Scam 1

 

Detailed Analysis

This email, which purports to be from large Australian bank, Westpac, promises recipients easy money just for participating in a “quick 5 question survey.”

To receive the “reward” , recipients are asked to open an attached HTML file which opens in their web browser. As the above screenshots reveal, recipients are then asked to fill in the “survey” as well as provide a large amount of personal information.

They are also asked to provide credit card details, ostensibly so that the promised survey fee can be credited to their accounts. Alternative versions ask users to click a link rather than open an attachment. Links open a bogus website that contains a “survey” form similar to the one shown in the above example.
However, the email is certainly not from Westpac and the promised survey fee is nothing more than the bait designed to trick unsuspecting recipients into handing over their details to Internet criminals. Those who fill in the bogus form and click the “Submit” button will in fact be sending their personal information directly to phishing scammers. Once they have collected their victim’s information, these criminals can use it to commit credit card fraud and identity theft.

Such survey phishing scams have become a common scammer ruse in recent years. Similar fake survey offers have falsely claimed to come from numerous other high profile companies and institutions, including ANZMcDonald’sCoca Cola and the UK Post Office. Other versions take a more generic approach by claiming to be a random survey conducted by a marketing company.

Some versions put the bogus survey in an attached file, apparently in an effort to avoid browser phishing protection mechanisms. Others contain a link to a bogus website that includes the fake survey.

Users should be wary of any unsolicited message that promises them a sizable cash payment for participating in an insignificant survey. No company is ever likely to offer such sums to large numbers of participants in exchange for filling in such brief surveys. Moreover, no legitimate company is ever likely to ask recipients to submit personal and financial information via an unsecure web form, be it contained in an attached file or hosted on a website. If you receive one of these bogus survey offers, do not open any attachments or follow any links that it may contain. Do not reply to the email.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer