Australian ministers are targets in Telegram phishing scam

The Telegram account of Australian Finance Minister Simon Birmingham was hacked. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - The Australian federal police said it's investigating a phishing scam that targeted senior Australian ministers through the Telegram messaging app on their mobile phones.

The phishing campaign, which was first reported to authorities on March 18, "appears to be in the form of a message from an associate and encourages recipients to download a messaging app for further communication," the Australian Federal Police said in a statement on Sunday (March 21). It did not name the officials involved.

The Telegram account of Finance Minister Simon Birmingham was hacked, according to a Sky News television broadcast. Its reporter on Sunday evening tweeted that "whoever has access to his account" is still impersonating him in sending messages to contacts, without saying where she got the information.

The police confirmed the activity on Birmingham's account and the country's cyber-intelligence agency, Australian Signals Directorate, "has been involved," the reporter said.

Birmingham's office did not immediately respond to calls and emails outside of business hours. Telegram also didn't immediately reply to a message sent via its website.

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