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- Business email compromise scams cost Australians $132 millionby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Business email compromise scams caused the highest losses across all scam types in 2019 costing businesses $132 million, according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report. “These combined losses from the ACCC, other government agencies and the big four banks show how financially harmful these scams can be,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said. “Scammers intercept legitimate invoices and change the details to include fraudulent payment information. The recipient will pay the invoice as normal and not realise they have been scammed.” “Another technique used by scammers is to impersonate the CEO of a company and request staff transfer funds to them for a variety of reasons, such as to purchase gift cards as a surprise for other staff.” Scamwatch alone received almost 6,000 reports from businesses last year with $5.3 million in reported losses. False billing was the most commonly reported type of scam which includes business email compromise scams. Other scams reported by businesses include online shopping scams where the business attempts to buy equipment online and the product never arrives. “It is important for businesses and their staff to know that these scams are out there so they can learn how to avoid them,” Mr Keogh said. Small and micro businesses reported more scams than medium and large-sized businesses. The average loss was $11,000, but some businesses lost up to $200,000. “Scammers are increasingly using email scams to target businesses of all sizes. It is important to have strong processes in place for verifying and paying accounts and businesses should ensure their systems have up-to-date anti-virus software,” Mr Keogh said. Australian businesses are encouraged to visit www.scamwatch.gov.au to learn more about scams targeting them and how to protect themselves. They can follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts. Businesses can also sign up to the ACCC’s Small Business Information Network to receive emails about new or updated resources, enforcement action, changes to Australia’s competition and consumer laws, events, surveys and scams relevant to the small business sector.
- Government impersonation scams on the riseby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Australians are being urged to watch out for government impersonation scams with over $1.26 million lost from more than 7100 reports made to Scamwatch so far this year and in reality, losses are likely to be far greater. There has been an increase in scams reported during tax time such as text messages claiming to be from myGov or from agencies claiming to help victims gain early access to their superannuation. “Scammers are increasingly taking advantage of the financial difficulties and uncertainty generated from the COVID-19 pandemic to trick unsuspecting Australians,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “We are seeing two main types of scams impersonating government departments; fake government threats and phishing scams.” “Both of these scams can be quite convincing and can lead to significant financial losses or even identity theft.” In a fake government threat scam, victims receive a robocall pretending to be from a government department, such as the ATO or Department of Home Affairs. The scammer will claim something illegal, such as tax fraud or money laundering, has been committed in the victim’s name and they should dial 1 to speak to an operator. The scammer then tries to scare people into handing over money and may threaten that they would be arrested if they refuse. “Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller and take your time to consider who you might be dealing with,” Ms Rickard said. “Government departments will never threaten you with immediate arrest or ask for payment by unusual methods such as gift cards, iTunes vouches or bank transfers.” In a phishing scam, victims will receive an email or text message claiming to be from a government department, such as Services Australia, requesting personal details to confirm their eligibility for a government payment or because the person may have been exposed to COVID-19. The emails and texts will include a link and request personal details such as a tax file number, superannuation details or copies of identity documents. “Don’t click on any hyperlinks in texts or emails to reach a government website, always type the address into the browser yourself,” Ms Rickard said. “Do not respond to texts or emails as the scammer will escalate their attempts to get your money.” “If you’re not sure whether a call is legitimate, hang up and call the relevant organisation directly by finding the details though an independent search,” Ms Rickard said. The ACCC also recommends that you report the scam to the government department that was impersonated. More information on scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help. You can also follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts. Background So far in 2020 (1 January-July) Scamwatch has received: 67 reports of scams involving impersonation of the Department of Health, or state Department of Health and Human Services, with losses over $8700 443 reports of scams involving Australian Federal Police impersonations with losses over $176,000 1,070 reports of scams involving Services Australia impersonations with losses over $94,000 1,638 reports of scams involving myGov impersonations with losses over $105,000 2,016 reports of scams involving Department of Home Affairs impersonations with losses over $99,000 2,389 reports of scams involving ATO impersonations with losses over $905,000.
- Scams target all sections of Australian society including CALD and Indigenous communitiesby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Data from the ACCC’s annual Targeting Scams report, released this week, indicates scammers don’t discriminate and are targeting a range of different communities in Australia. In 2019, people who reported speaking English as a second language lost $13.7 million, an increase of 90 per cent on the previous year, despite the number of reports remaining steady. This increase was mainly from investment scams, which accounted for over $5.3 million in losses in this group. “Investment scams often begin with cold calls promising low risk investments with high returns and can go on for months, resulting in high individual losses,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t let anyone pressure you and make sure you take the time to research the investment opportunity and get financial advice before agreeing to anything.” Dating and romance scams had the next highest losses in this group at $2.7 million, followed by scams using threats to life or arrest at $1.7 million. “Chinese authority scams continue to target the Mandarin-speaking community by accusing victims of perpetrating a crime, and threatening arrest or deportation if they do not provide money, or information such as their bank account balances and identity details,” Ms Rickard said. Losses to Chinese authority scams in 2019 increased by 40 per cent on 2018 figures, up to $2 million. Last year, 4.6 per cent of reports to Scamwatch came from people who speak English as a second language and 1.6 per cent came from people who identified as Indigenous. “We want to encourage all community groups to report to Scamwatch and not feel embarrassed or ashamed if they have been a victim of a scam,” Ms Rickard said. In 2019 there were 2,767 scam reports from Indigenous consumers, a 14 per cent increase from 2018, but the $2.1 million lost was 30 per cent lower. Again, the most financially harmful scams in this group were investment scams, with over $1.1 million lost. This was followed by dating and romance scams with nearly half a million in losses. “If you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank immediately and if you have any concerns about your safety, contact the police,” Ms Rickard said. “The ACCC has translated our Little Black Book of Scams into ten different languages to assist the wider community to learn about scams and how to avoid them.” “We are also continuing our Indigenous outreach programs and sharing scam warnings on the Your Rights Mob Facebook page,” Ms Rickard said. For more information about scams visit www.scamwatch.gov.au, follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts.
- Rental scams targeting more Australians during pandemicby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Australians have lost over $300,000 to rental and accommodation scams this year, an increase of 76 per cent compared to the same time last year. Scamwatch has received 560 reports of rental scams so far this year, an increase of 56 per cent, with many using tactics related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These scams target people seeking new rental accommodation by offering fake rental properties to convince people into handing over money or personal information. “Scammers are offering reduced rents due to COVID-19 and using the government restrictions to trick people into transferring money without inspecting the property,” ACCC Deputy Commissioner Delia Rickard said. The scammer will post advertisements on real estate or classified websites or target people who have posted on social media that they are looking for a room. After the victim responds, the scammer will request an upfront deposit to secure the property or phish for personal information through a ‘tenant application form’, promising to provide the keys after the payment or information is provided. The scammer may come up with excuses for further payments and the victim often only realises they have been scammed when the keys don’t arrive and the scammer cuts off contact. Some scammers will even impersonate real estate agents and organise fake inspections, victims will then arrive to discover the property doesn’t exist or is currently occupied. “The loss of personal information through rental scams is becoming more common, with scammers requesting copies of identity documents such as passports, bank statements or payslips,” Ms Rickard said. “Once a scammer has your personal information you are at risk of being targeted by further scams or identity theft.” “Many people are also experiencing financial difficulties due to the pandemic and the financial impact of falling victim to a scam can be devastating,” Ms Rickard said. People aged 25–34 reported the most rental scams so far in 2020, and the most reports came from NSW, VIC and the ACT. A common rental scam operating in Canberra involves a scammer impersonating a doctor living in Sweden who only offers virtual inspections and then requests bond money. “Try to view a property in person before paying any bond or rent money to landlords or real estate agents,” Ms Rickard said. “In areas of Victoria under COVID-19 level 4 restrictions this is not possible, but you can help protect yourself by doing an online search to confirm the property exists and, if dealing with an agent, checking that the agent you are dealing with is licensed.” “Scammers often rely on email communications to avoid identification, do an independent search for a phone number and speak to the property manager over the phone or arrange a meeting in person,” Ms Rickard said. “Before making any payments ensure you are dealing with the licensed agent, if a scammer has your details they may impersonate a real estate agent and attempt to ‘follow-up’ requesting money after an inspection.” Potential renters can contact their state consumer protection agency for information on bond requirements and tenants’ rights in their state. More information on scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help. You can also follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts. Background Anyone who suspects they are a victim of a rental scam should act quickly to reduce the risk of financial loss or other damages. They should contact their bank as soon as possible and, if relevant, contact the platform on which they were scammed to inform them of the circumstances. IDCARE is a free government-funded service which works with victims of identity theft to develop a specific response plan and support them throughout the process. You can phone them on 1300 IDCARE (432273) or visit their website www.idcare.org.
- Scams Awareness Week 2020by Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Scamwatch has seen a 55 per cent increase in reports involving loss of personal information this year compared with the same period in 2019, totalling more than 24 000 reports and over $22 million in losses. This Scams Awareness Week, listen to our new podcast series to find out how scammers use new technology to trick you into giving away information they can use to steal your identity for their own gain and ways you can protect yourself. This is Not Your Life podcast: new episode daily From the makers of ABC consumer affairs TV show The Checkout, our This is Not Your Life podcast is the most entertaining way to protect your identity. There is a new episode every day this week. Today’s episode Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn Be yourself: our top tips to protect yourself Your personal information is valuable. You have a lot to lose – and not only money. Once lost, it can take years to recover your identity. But there are some simple ways you can protect yourself. Feeling confident? Put your knowledge to the test and take our quiz to check if you can be yourself online or if you would let a scammer be you. Do your own research to independently verify if someone is who they claim to be. If you receive a phone call from someone you suspect is a scammer, hang up, find the organisation’s number yourself and call them back. Never use a number they give you. Don’t trust a site or an ad just because it’s advertised on social media or classified website, or claims it’s endorsed by a celebrity. Check independent reviews and be wary of offers too good to be true. Be suspicious of emails and messages asking for your personal information, even if they seem to be from a trusted source. Watch out for telltale signs of a scam in unsolicited emails and messages, like not using your correct name, typos and grammatical errors, or suspicious web addresses. Don’t click on links in unexpected emails or messages, even if it appears to have come from a legitimate source. Don’t share personal information online with someone you’ve never met in person. Don’t give financial or account details, or copies of your identity documents to someone online who you’ve never met in person. Never give strangers remote access to your computer. Limit what personal information you share about yourself online, including on social media. Use strong passwords for your accounts and internet network, and never share them with others. Use tools that help you check and protect your online security. IDcare’s free Cyber First Aid Kit can help you work out what to do if you think you’ve been scammed. Check your credit report for free using a reputable credit reference bureau at least once every year – this can help you catch any unauthorised activity. Install anti-virus software on your devices and keep it up to date. Find out more about how to detect and protect yourself from identity theft. Take part in the campaign: resource library Help us spread the word on identity crime and how consumers can spot scams and protect themselves. Download campaign resources. Our partners We would like to acknowledge the assistance of our government, business, and community group partners. See our full list of partners.
- Threat based scams targeting young people and Chinese communityby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Australians have lost over $8.8 million to threat based scams so far this year, and young people are reporting the highest losses. Threat based scammers often pretend to be from government departments and rely on fear, intimidation and people’s instinct to comply with authority, to scam victims. These scams are mainly phone-based and impersonate various officials, such as police, ATO officers or government investigators. People aged 24 and under reported losing more than $4.1 million to threat based scams and women reported losses three times higher than men. “It is extremely concerning that young people are being so severely emotionally and financially impacted by threat based scams,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “These losses can be devastating and they can also lead to a loss of trust in authority, meaning victims of threat based scams may be less likely to seek help or advice from legitimate agencies in the future.” So far this year Scamwatch has received over 18,000 reports of these scams, an increase of 40 per cent compared to reports across all of 2019. Chinese authority scams comprised 74 per cent of all losses to threat based scams, over $6.5 million. These scams target Mandarin-speakers in Australian and impersonate authorities such as the Chinese embassy, police or other government officials. “Threat based scams disproportionately impact people with English as a second language, including foreign students, who may not fully understand Australian law,” Ms Rickard said. “Victims will often provide personal information to scammers, as they believe they are dealing with a government agency, and this can lead to identity theft or falling victim to further scams.” Scamwatch has recorded an increase in robo-calls impersonating government agencies, such as the Department of Home Affairs or Services Australia, which claim the victim is under investigation and to ‘Dial 1’ to speak to an investigator. “Government departments will never send pre-recorded messages to your phone or threaten you with immediate arrest,” Ms Rickard said. “If you’re not sure whether a call is legitimate, hang up and call the organisation directly by finding their details through an independent search.” “Never send money or give credit card details or personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email or over the phone.” Consumers can also download the ACCC’s Little Black Book of Scams, which has been translated into 10 languages. You can follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts. Background If the scammer impersonated a government agency, contact the agency by sourcing the number from an independent search and report the scam to them. If you have experienced fraud or theft or the scammer is impersonating the police, contact your local police or crime stoppers on 1800 333 000. IDCARE is a free government-funded service which works with victims of identity theft to develop a specific response plan and support them throughout the process. You can phone them on 1300 IDCARE (432273) or visit their website www.idcare.org
- Watch out for online shopping scams this holiday seasonby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Losses to online shopping scams have increased 42 per cent this year, and Scamwatch is warning Australians to be careful when buying gifts this holiday season. Scamwatch has received over 12,000 reports of online shopping scams so far this year, with almost $7 million in reported losses. “More people have been shopping online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions and scammers are now targeting people doing their Christmas shopping, including in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “Scammers create fake websites that look like genuine online stores, offering products at very low prices and victims will either receive a fake item or nothing at all.” “They also post fake ads on classified websites, often claiming they are travelling and someone else will deliver the goods, but the item never arrives and the victim can no longer contact the seller.” Losses on classified websites, such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, have increased by 60 per cent this year, to $4.5 million. Reports of online shopping scams involving consumer goods, such as shoes, phones, computers and toys, continue to be high. But the most common thing people were trying to buy when they were scammed was puppies and other pets. People aged 24 and under reported the highest number of scams involving phones and computers. “Watch out for popular products being sold at prices much lower than on other websites and sellers requesting payment through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency,” Ms Rickard said. “Take the time to consider who you are dealing with and don’t be pressured by special offers.” “Do your research by checking independent reviews of online stores or the seller’s history on classified websites.” Another scam to be aware of if you have made recent purchases online is fake parcel delivery notifications via text message or email. “Australia Post will never ask you to click a link to enter your personal details, nor will they ask for credit card details or a fee to deliver your packages,” Ms Rickard said. “If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances.” Most financial institutions offer a charge back service for credit cards and will dispute a credit transaction with the merchant if they still exist. More information on scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help. You can follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts. Background Top ten products for online shopping and classified scams Number Product Reports Losses 1 Pets 2111 $2 050 158 2 Shoes 569 $81 502 3 Vehicles 568 $808 571 4 Phones 428 $258 199 5 Laptop/computer/drones/iPads 356 $205 496 6 Clothing 250 $35 693 7 Toys 204 $39 498 8 Games/Nintendo/X-box/Jigsaw 182 $381 110 9 Barbeques 173 $55 552 10 Handbags and bags 110 $55 788
- Romance baiting scams on the riseby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Australians reported a record-breaking $37 million lost to Scamwatch last year for dating and romance scams. Total losses are expected to be much higher and scammers are now using dating apps to lure victims into investment scams. This new technique, called romance baiting, involves scammers meeting people on dating apps and then moving the conversation to an encrypted chat site. After a few weeks of developing a relationship, the scammer will begin asking about the victim’s finances and encourage them to participate in an investment opportunity. “These scams prey on people seeking connection and can leave victims with significant financial losses and emotional distress,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “While traditional dating and romance scams tend to target older Australians, almost half of all losses to romance baiting scams come from people under the age of 35.” Scammers often encourage victims to initially transfer a small amount of money to prove how easy the investment is. Victims will be told to top up their accounts to increase their profits but when they run out of money to transfer, the scammer will cease all communication. Last year Scamwatch received over 400 reports of romance baiting scams with over $15.2 million in losses and the majority involved cryptocurrency investment scams. “Don’t take financial advice from someone you met on an app and never give financial or personal details to someone you’ve only met online,” Ms Rickard said. Scammers may use a technique called ‘love bombing’, where they contact the victim several times a day professing their feelings for them. The victim starts to develop feelings in return, making them more likely to participate in the investment scam. “If you match with someone on a dating app, get to know them in the app as you have more protections than if you move to a different chat site.” For example, if someone reports a potential scammer on a dating app, the profile can be removed. Other people currently communicating with the scammer on the platform are then protected by the removal of the scammer’s profile. “Remember that you are in control and if you start to feel pressured by someone, stop communicating with them,” Ms Rickard said. “You can also do an internet search with the name or photo of your love interest or some of the phrases they have used to help identify if it is a scam.” If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances. More information on scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help. You can follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts. Background In 2020, there were 7,314 reports of investment scams with losses over $66 million.
- Payment redirection scams cost Australian businesses $14 millionby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Australian businesses reported over $14 million in losses to Scamwatch due to payment redirection scams last year, and average losses so far in 2021 are more than five times higher compared to average losses in the same period last year. Total losses are much higher as these scams are reported to a range of different organisations. In a payment redirection scam, also known as business email compromise scams, scammers impersonate a business or its employees via email and request that money, which usually is owed to the legitimate business, is sent to a fraudulent account. “Payment redirection scams impact businesses across many industries, including real estate, construction, law, recruitment, and universities,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “Scammers tend to target new or junior employees, or even volunteers, as they are less likely to be familiar with their employer’s finance processes or the types of requests to expect from their supervisors.” “We recommend organisations ensure their staff are well trained in the company’s payment processes and remain aware of payment redirection scams,” Ms Rickard said. Payment redirection scams can take several different forms. In some instances, scammers hack into a legitimate email account and pose as the business, by intercepting legitimate invoices and amending the bank details before releasing emails to the intended recipients. In one instance, a victim lost $16,500 in a single transaction after a scammer used a staff member’s email address to send an invoice to a customer with ‘updated bank details’, redirecting the payment to the scammer’s personal bank account. Other times, payment redirection is done by spoofing, when scammers impersonate CEOs or other senior managers using a registered email address that is very similar to that of the genuine email address. The scammer will then request that staff transfer funds to them or make a payment to a third party on behalf of the business. Scamwatch has also received reports of scammers posing as staff members, where they request the employee’s salary be paid into the scammer’s bank account. “An increasing number of reports are coming from sports and community clubs which reported more than $55,000 in losses to payment redirection scams last year. It is likely we will see similar figures this year, with $18,000 already reported lost so far in 2021,” Ms Rickard said. Scammers posed as the president or treasurer and requested staff to action payments for ‘equipment’ or other business needs, but the money went straight into the scammer’s bank account. Other businesses or individuals have also inadvertently paid a scammer as a result of a payment redirection scam. “It can be difficult to recover money lost to a payment redirection scam, so prevention is really important,” Ms Rickard said. “Don’t deviate from your organisation’s payment procedure, even if the request you have received appears to come from your CEO or a senior manager.” “If you have received a request that creates a sense of urgency, don’t rush. Take the time to consider and check whether an email is real, including by looking carefully at the sender’s email address, before acting on instructions,” Ms Rickard said. “Whenever there is a request to change payment details, always check with the organisation using stored contact details, rather than those in the requesting communication.” If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances. To report a cyber crime visit the business reporting page at cyber.gov.au. More information on scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help. You can follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts for more information about current and emerging scams.
- Current COVID-19 (coronavirus) scamsby Scamwatch on April 17, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Scamwatch has received over 6415 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus with more than $9 800 000 in reported losses since the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).