Australians are facing an increasing number of scams

This year, Australians have reported over 190,000 scams to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch site.  This includes over $192 million in losses, an increase of 95.4% compared to the same time last year.

We’ve partnered with the Scams Awareness Network, opens in new window to support National Scams Awareness Week (8-12 November 2021); which aims to increase customer awareness about the scams they may face.

New scams are constantly emerging, and scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Our growing reliance on technology has provided them with further opportunities to convince people into giving away their information. For example, scammers can use personal information found online to steal your identity for both personal and financial gain.

This year, we’re asking Australians to talk about scams with their friends and family – the more we raise awareness, the better protected all Australians will be.

How to identify a scam

It’s easier to spot a scam if you know what to look for. Watch out for the following:

  •  Someone asks you for personal information, like your bank details or passwords, or access to your computer.
  • Someone you’ve never met in person asks you for money or asks you to give them money by unusual payment methods such as gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrencies.
  • Something sounds too good to be true, like an online shopping deal, a competition you’ve won, an unclaimed inheritance, or being invited to invest in an ‘amazing’ opportunity.
  • Someone threatens you with immediate arrest or deportation unless you transfer money.
  •  Someone pressures you into buying something or making a decision quickly.

Customers’ experiences with scams

Romance scams

Elaine, a 42-year-old nurse, decided to sign up to an online dating site in the hope of finding love. After a couple of days, Elaine received a message from a man called Todd, a 45-year-old American pilot. Elaine was excited about Todd – he was her type.  Soon they were talking daily.

Their conversations moved quickly, and they spoke about their plans for when Todd’s employment contract ended.  It was decided that Todd would move to Australia to continue their relationship. Elaine felt like this could be the start of something exciting.

During one conversation, Todd mentioned he’d been doing well investing in digital currencies, and he was happy to share the details.

Elaine had recently been thinking about how to grow her wealth, so she’d have enough for retirement.  Todd told her he’d invested $100,000 and gave her detailed information on the investment and the returns.  All Elaine needed to do was send what she wanted to invest to Todd via Bitcoin, and he’d look after it from there.

What happened next

Elaine sent $5,000 and it wasn’t long before Todd sent her information which showed her investment was now worth $12,200. She and Todd discussed both their investments and how much they’d earned. Elaine quickly realised she could invest a lot more of her money and be able to retire sooner than she thought. And so over the next couple of weeks, with Todd’s encouragement, she sent more money.

At the same time, Elaine was looking at buying a property. She needed some of her money back for the deposit and asked Todd about accessing it. He said there would be no issues, just a small fee to pay – which Elaine did. The next time Elaine asked, Todd he said there was a slight delay due to an issue with the trader. That was the last time Elaine was able to get a hold of Todd. 

Elaine soon realised that she had been scammed and had lost over $300,000 to Todd. She warns, “I hope sharing what happened to me helps other people understand the dangers of online romance”.

If you’re concerned a family member or friend is involved in a romance scam, you can find out more in this article.

Investment scams

Lee had been thinking about he could grow his wealth, and when one of his friends mentioned he’d had some success using the ‘Hope Business’ application, Lee thought he’d give it a go.  All it required was an initial investment, and then Lee would need to complete some activities via the app to see his investment grow.

Lee sent $5000 to an account he was given via the ‘Hope Business’ application and quickly jumped on to complete the activities.  Then he received a message.  The message stated that if he invited friends and family to the app, he could earn more, and that by investing larger amounts, the rewards would also be larger.

Lee eagerly let his friends know how easy it was to generate wealth with the ‘Hope Business’ app, and to get onboard early. 

What happened next

Two weeks later Lee injured his leg and was unable to work.  He needed some of the funds he’d invested to be able to cover his bills while he was off work.  Lee opened the app and filled out the withdrawal request.  He wondered how long it would take to get the money back in his account. 

Later that day, Lee attempted to log back in to see if his withdrawal had been processed, but his access to the app was blocked.  In an attempt to find out what had happened to his account, Lee did some research online to find a number to contact the company. He was shocked to discover a number of reviews and articles which talked about ‘Hope Business’ app being a scam.  He was not alone – he’d invited some friends to invest, and they’d found they’d also been blocked from the app.

Many well educated and intelligent Australians have fallen victim to these sophisticated scams, with Australians reporting over $115,000,000 in losses to investment scams so far this year.

For more information about investment scams, check out:

You can learn more about protecting your identity online by reading our keeping your identity safe article.

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