Senior Constable Steve Smith with Catherine Whitehead.
Senior Constable Steve Smith with Catherine Whitehead. Jacob Miley

Woman scammed out of 20k

HACKERS who scammed more than $20,000 from a Mackay woman claimed to be deaf to gain access to her phone and access her bank accounts.

Catherine Whitehead was contacted by her bank two weeks ago after they noticed suspicious internet banking activity. Two days later her mobile phone service went to 'SOS' mode.

She contacted her service provider and they told Ms Whitehead her number had gone to a different provider. That's when she was worried. She checked her accounts and found $21,000 had been drained from her credit cards and saving accounts.

Mackay Police Crime Prevention Unit Senior Constable Steve Smith said it was believed the hackers used a relay system to communicate with Ms Whitehead's bank.

A computer technician said there were several viruses on her computer that had been used to collect personal information to gain access to her internet banking.

Ms Whitehead said she felt "violated" by the crime.

"I don't know how much information they've got and who has got it," she said. It's very frightening that you've sort of lost control over your personal information."

She urged residents to take better steps to protect identity online.

The incident was referred onto the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.

Ms Whitehead hopes to get her money back.