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Quilty latest victim of hackers targeting equestrian events


ABOVE: Scammers are making a target of equestrian events.

IF running a national event that involves hundreds of riders setting off in the middle of the night isn’t hard enough, organisers of this year’s Tom Quilty Gold Cup also had to deal with hackers targeting their Facebook site.


Volunteers posting on the progress of the race spent the night fighting off the attacks, which involved the very serious issue of links for supposed live feeds being posted that, when clicked on and prompts followed, gave hackers access to passwords and banking details.


Sioux Reid, who was on site at Imbil, said they were deleting the posts as fast as they appeared and putting warnings out to readers.


“It was seriously nasty,” Sioux said. “We went as hard as we could.”


Their experience is a warning to other organisations to be on alert.


The problems started with a cloned page a couple of weeks beforehand, as individual Facebook users have been experiencing of late, but escalated just before the event got underway.


“The bogus page using our TQ23 logo with a banner of Bob Sample strapping breached copyright so Facebook took it down after the website master reported it,” Sioux said.


“They were always going to come back. Just a matter of when. (The attack) went to about midnight when I posted the warm up and kept going till 3.30am then came back around 6am. It was a busy night.”


Jen Green, who took over from Sioux when she lost connectivity, had been trying to trace the hackers after issues with the Victorian branch website, but they proved “wiley”.

“I’ve had them cause trouble in the past,” she said.


“The basic modus operandi is to post fake live stream links on sports events Facebook pages and groups – particularly equestrian sports.


“People are so excited to see that there might be a live feed of the event so they click on the link. Various things can happen when you click on the link.


“Sometimes they ask for your credit card as security to view the live stream and other times they ask you to accept terms and conditions to access the feed but in reality you are accepting a link to a remote desktop and as most people wouldn’t look at the URL they have no idea that the scammer is now in their computer via Anydesk or another remote desktop program.


“I’ve had to shut down entire event pages in the past due to their persistence.”


Endurance is not the only discipline to have been targeted recently, with the National Pleasure Horse Association of Australia and the Emerald Show Society also reporting attacks in May.


A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch program said it had been receiving reports of scammer comments on social media sites linking to supposed live streams of sporting events, including swimming, football and race events.


In these incidences, clicking the links has resulted in credit card details being requested from the individual. Upon entering credit card details, attempted charges being made against the card, though the site may inform the user that the credit card details were invalid or failed.


Scamwatch recommends that organisers should moderate comments left on their event pages and remove any comments that include suspicious links.


It says consideration should be given to including specific information on their pages about whether or not the event will be livestreamed. They should also warn their users of scam activity occurring and what to look out for.


“The key message is not to click on any links and do not provide banking details,” the spokesperson said.


Scam activity should be reported to the platform where it is occurring in the first instance and to Scamwatch at www.scamwatch.gov.au


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