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Scampaigns to Take Your Money

By 12 April 2013Consumer Law

Steve is a 65 year old retiree who lives by himself.

Not long after his wife died, he received an unexpected call.

The cold-callers were very professional in their approach, with an excellent knowledge of investment matters.

They answered Steve’s questions satisfactorily, and followed up with calls from “senior advisors”.

Steve’s superannuation funds weren’t doing too well, so he decided to give the new people a try. He did not feel the need to discuss this new venture with anyone else.

Over the next 12 months, Steve made a number of transfers to the fraudsters. The website he was directed to appeared genuine, and Steve set up a log-in account with $10.000, and as he saw his investment appreciate in value, he was confident enough to keep depositing funds. The day came when Steve couldn’t access his “account”, the website vanished, and no one answered his international phone calls. Steve was duped out of $200.000.

Too embarrassed to tell anyone of his foolishness, Steve was later contacted by police who found his name on a list of bank transfers.
Since then Steve has been contacted by the criminals, with offers to “help” him get his money back. This time he contacted police. Steve has “Buckley’s” chance of getting his investment back.

This story came from a website recently set up by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

SCAMwatch is an innovative site designed to provide information to consumers and small businesses on how to recognise and avoid scams.

When we hear of scams, most of us think that the Internet is the major source, however, over half of the eighty three thousand reported scams in 2011 were carried out by telephone.

Australian enforcement agencies tell us that financial loss has become a major concern, and consumers need to be more vigilant than ever, with almost 6 million people in Australia being exposed to scams and fraud in any given year, and over 800,000 falling victim in some way.

Each year Australians are ripped off to the tune of 1 billion dollars by unscrupulous entrepreneurs, many from overseas countries.

Since many of these fraudsters emanate from other countries, Australian police authorities can do little to recoup people’s money.

The key message for consumers is: ” out-of-the-blue-to-good-to-be-true”

Follow these simple rules:

  1. Never respond to unexpected mail, especially email.
  2. Don’t give personal information over the phone.
  3. You don’t get anything for free. If it seems too good to be true – IT IS.

According to the ACCC the five most common scams are:

1. Advance fee scams. Requesting payment for package deliveries, or processing fee for large “inheritances”

2. Computer hacking scams. Offers to fix a problem with your computer, and then introducing spyware.

3. Lottery and sweepstakes scams. “Send us a small payment and we will send you a fortune”

4. Banking/phishing scam. Emails asking you to confirm account details.

5. Online auction or shopping scams. You pay for goods that never turn up.

The ACCC SCAM Watch website has loads of valuable information: www.scamwatch.gov.au

You can access a “Report a Scam” online form or ring the ACCC SCAM Watch Infocentre: 1300795995.