Cyber Scare beware: Honeymoon ends in tears for Sydney small business

When Sydney small business owner Samea Maakrun received a phone call from a wine company confirming an order for $6,500 worth of wine upon return from her honeymoon she knew something was wrong.

But the honeymoon was clearly over when Ms Maakrun, who owns Sasy n Savy in Miranda, attempted to access her bank accounts and credit cards only to find she had been cleaned out by cybercriminals.

“They had cleared out a six digit figure from my personal account, my business account and my credit card - they even robbed my PayPal account,” she said.

“I was on edge and I started to get shaky and nervous so we went to the police and reported the situation but they said they couldn’t do anything.”

Six months later Ms Maakrun discovered someone had had hacked into her email account and used her passport and credit card details to pay for the wine and had also used the identification to divert her mobile phone to access her bank accounts.

“They went into a shop and pretended to be me to divert my phone and the pin was sent to their mobile phone every time they were doing transaction over $25,000.

“I called iiNet but they would not give me the details so we passed it on to the police and they said they could not do anything about it which is appalling.

“We complained to the banks and they told us didn’t have enough knowledge to catch the criminals. We had to fight the banks for our funds and it took us forever to re-establish a bank account and a credit card and I was treated like a criminal.”

Ms Maakrun believes a potential business partner bugged her office and stole her identity through wireless theft of passwords and user information.

“We went through a lull of six months and we lost a lot of sales but now we are slowly back on track. The company took a very hard hit,” she said.

“It’s affected us physically mentally and financially. I just want to make other companies aware of that threat so they don’t have to go through what we went through.”

Ms Maakrun has now had her office debugged, installed security and deployed high-level security on her servers which hides her IP address.

“This has really impacted not only my business but me personally. I would encourage all small business owners to take a good look at their security to avoid what happened to me.”

Cyber Scare report

The NSW Small Business Commissioner commissioned research on business attitudes and views of cybercrime. Learn more about the problems small to medium-sized businesses have experienced on our Cyber Scare webpage.

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