Learning about and talking about scams can help you, your family and your friends to spot a scam, stay safe and seek help. For Scams Awareness , learn about four common scams on the rise in Australia.
Scams impact thousands of individuals and businesses every year, causing financial losses and emotional harm for victims and their loved ones.
Scammers are always coming up with new and sneaky ways to trick people into sharing their personal details or money. As of the end of August 2021, Scamwatch had received over 190,000 reports of scams this year alone, amounting to more than $192 million in losses.
Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across Australia. Learning about different types of scams and talking about scams with other people can make a huge difference.
Most people have encountered scams in one form or another, and people who have fallen victim to a scam can feel ashamed or afraid to speak up or to seek support. Many people who experience a scam never report it to anyone.
For Scams Awareness , we encourage you to have a conversation with your friends, family or colleagues about scams and to arm yourself with information about some of the most common scams.
Missed delivery, call or voicemail scams
Have you received a text message or email about online shopping you never ordered? Or maybe a weird text message saying you have a voicemail with a strange looking website link?
‘Flubot’ scams have made their way to Australia in 2021 after rapidly spreading overseas. Since August 2021, Scamwatch has received over 16,000 reports of this type of scam.
These messages ask you to click on a link to download something or to visit a website. The message might say you have a package awaiting delivery, or a voicemail waiting for you, but the message is fake. These messages usually include a link, which almost always has 5-9 random letters at the ebd. This link directs victims to download malicious software called ‘Flubot’.
If you receive one of these messages – delete it. Do not click on the link.
For more information on what to look out for, visit the Scamwatch .
Computer takeover scams
Computer takeover scams are also on the rise in Australia, growing by 184 per cent over the past year. People aged 65 and over have lost the most money this year from this type of scam, with reported losses of over $4 million.
Through this scam, scammers impersonate a well-known business over the phone or via text message to try to gain access victims’ computers.
These scammers often try to create a sense of urgency and ask people to download remote control software. Once the software is downloaded and the scammer has control of the computer or device, they ask people to log into secure applications such as emails, internet banking or PayPal accounts. With access to these applications or the information they contain, scammers will try to impersonate their victims or steal their money.
So what should you look out for? Scams of this nature often come out of the blue. They might start with an unexpected phone call, SMS, email or pop up saying you’ve been billed for a purchase you didn’t make, your device has been compromised, or your account has been hacked. If it doesn’t sound right – hang up. If you are not sure, hang up and independently source the contact details for the organisation to contact them directly yourself.
To learn more about computer takeover scams, visit the Scamwatch .
Financial losses from investment scams are on track to more than double in 2021. Investment scams often involve promises of big payouts, quick money or guaranteed returns. As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
While many people may be familiar with Ponzi schemes or shady ‘investment seminars’, newer kinds of investment scams can be sophisticated and difficult so spot. For example, cryptocurrency scams – which encourage you to invest in digital currencies like Bitcoin – often start small and try to take advantage of the hype around cryptocurrency.
Often the initial investment amount is low, around $250 and $500, but then the scammers put pressure their victims to invest more over time, before claiming the money is gone, ceasing communication or blocking access to the funds. Losses to cryptocurrency scams are the now the highest of all types of investment scams, representing over 50 per cent of losses.
Before investing, always seek independent legal advice or financial advice from a financial advisor who is registered with ASIC. Learn more on the Scamwatch .
Romance scams take advantage of people looking for a romantic partner or companionship.
These scammers often create a fake profile on dating websites or social media, build a fictional story to draw victims in and aim to build a strong emotional connection quickly. Once scammers have gained trust and created this bond, they ask subtly or directly for money – as a bank transfer or even as giftcards, often under the guise of a personal emergency.
As well as breaking people’s hearts, romance scams are financially and emotionally costly. While reports about romance scams have decreased, financial losses have increased to $34 million in the last year. Victims can be ashamed of reporting romance scams, and the emotional betrayal can be difficult to come to terms with.
To protect yourself, never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. Be alert to things that don’t add up about what the person says, what they share or doesn’t share. Read more tips on the Scamwatch .
Reviewed 21 December 2022