Man charged for ‘evil twin’ scam using fake WiFi networks at Australian airports: Report

A 42-year-old Australian man faces charges related to an “evil twin” scam involving the use of “fake free WiFi networks” to steal personal data from unsuspecting users at airports across Perth, Melbourne, and Adelaide.

Authorities claim to have retrieved personal data from numerous individuals, with ongoing forensic analysis of seized devices. (Pic used for representation)(Representative image)

According to a report from news.com.au, the man deployed a device in various locations, including airports and domestic flights, to replicate legitimate WiFi networks as “evil twin” copies.

Authorities claim to have retrieved personal data from numerous individuals, with ongoing forensic analysis of seized devices.

Here’s how the scam took place

The man allegedly operated a device offering free WiFi, which directed users to a counterfeit webpage when attempting to connect their devices. According to police, users were prompted to log in using their email or social media credentials.

Authorities said the man stored these details on his devices, potentially gaining access to further personal information such as online communications, stored media, and banking details.

The purported scam was revealed in April when an airline reported a suspicious WiFi network during a domestic flight, prompting police involvement.

How was he caught?

The report said Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigators searched the man’s belongings upon his arrival at Perth Airport on April 19, following an interstate flight.

They seized a portable wireless access device, a laptop, and a mobile phone from his hand luggage. Subsequently, officers also raided at his residence in Palmyra, near Fremantle.

A second search warrant was executed at his home on May 8, resulting in the man’s arrest and charges being laid for a series of offences. Police claim to have retrieved personal data belonging to numerous individuals.

‘Internet users should be cautious’

AFP Western Command Cybercrime Department said internet users should always be cautious when logging on to any public wi-fi networks. “To connect to a free wi-fi network, you shouldn’t have to enter any personal details – such as logging in through an email or social media account,” police said.

Police advised that individuals using public hotspots should consider installing a reputable VPN on their devices to encrypt and secure their data. They also suggested avoiding sensitive activities like banking while connected to public networks and disabling file sharing. After use, it was advised to adjust device settings to ‘forget network’.

Additionally, it was recommended to turn off wi-fi on devices before going out to prevent automatic connection to hotspots.

People using accessible wi-fi networks in airport areas or on domestic flights were encouraged to change their passwords and report any suspicious activity to cyber.gov.au.