There are many types of scams that target Australians, with over AU$12,000,000 lost in August 2017 alone!
These include phishing scams, theft, fraud and identity theft.
But how do you know if you’ve been scammed, and what should you do?
Common scams include:
- Offering money (inheritance or lottery winnings) in return for personal details
- Fake charities
- Catfishing- where someone adopts a false online persona to lure a person into giving them money, for example in an online dating scam.
- Online transaction fraud
- Offering fake jobs or investments
- Stealing personal details (phishing) and faking identities
Going, going, gone
While the Australian Federal police investigates scams against government departments and authorities, in general, state and territory police have jurisdiction only in the state or territory where the offender committed the crime, or in the state or territory where the victim has been defrauded.
What this essentially means, is that once you've been scammed it's unlikely you will ever see your money again and the perpetrators are unlikely to be brought to justice.
This is especially true when the scammers are operating from overseas, which they frequently are.
There are a number of warning signs that suggest you might be in danger of being scammed:
- The offer seems too good to be true
- Private information is requested
- There are suspicious errors in communications - for example emails from royal family members in African countries.
- Requests for advance payments and fees are made before releasing money
- There's suspicious contact information (strange domain names, suspicious addresses)
- Untraceable payment methods are offered
- Pressure or manipulative language is used
Who to report it to?
If you think you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam you should report it via the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch website, as well as similar local state or territory consumer protection authorities.
Tax scams should be reported to the Australian Taxation Office, cybercrime to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network, and fraud and theft to your local police.
There are a number of additional steps to take after reporting a scam.
- If you’ve sent money, you should contact your bank or credit union, who might be able to stop or reverse charges.
- If your identity has been stolen, there is government assistance available, such as the service iDcare. You can also apply for a Commonwealth Victims' Certificate.
- You should also contact the administrators or owners of any websites that the scammers used to make contact with you.
- Additionally, while it might be embarrassing, warn your family, friends or even local community about the scam you fell victim to.
Recovering from scamming trauma
Being scammed can be devastating, emotionally and financially.
While recovering from being scammed, consider contacting a support or counselling service.
It can be a traumatic experience and it’s important to make sure you take the time to recover and come to terms with what happened to you.
If it’s a member of your family that has been scammed, be sure to support them during what’s certain to be a difficult time. It’s also important in the time after you were scammed to educate yourself about different scams, to prevent you or your friends and families from becoming victims again, to the same type of scam or another.