2018 Scams Campaign

Crime Stoppers Victoria together with Consumer Affairs Victoria are encouraging older Victorians to become ‘Scam Savvy’ in a bid to help the community stay safe online.

Do you and your family members understand how to spot a scam online? By knowing the warning signs we can help stop the scammers and keep our community safe.

Are you scam savvy?

Not long after retirement, Roger* received an email from a portfolio manager about an investment opportunity. It couldn’t have come at a better time – he’d been thinking about smart ways to invest his hard earned money. The manager promised Roger quick and high returns if he followed his advice. All he had to do was pay a fee and leave the rest up to the manager.

Martha* was forced into early retirement due to a back injury. Money wasn’t tight, but the medical expenses were piling up so when she got an email saying the government owed her $5,000 in overpaid taxes, it was a dream come true. All she had to do was pay a ‘reclaim fee’ into a Western Union account and the money would be hers.

Both Roger and Martha ended up losing large amounts of money. They had fallen for a scam.

Scammers are professional criminals. Anyone can fall for a scam – and scammers are getting smarter and using more sophisticated tricks to dupe thousands of Victorians every year. Scammers are also hard to find and prosecute, with many based overseas or working anonymously from behind a computer.

Common online scams & tips to avoid them

Some common scams include:

  • Investment scam – Scammers typically offer ‘get rich quick’ schemes and investments based on ‘secret’ information or special software. They claim to be able to predict the outcomes of sports or share trading. After you pay their expensive fees, you will discover that their claims of past performance and guarantees about future results are false.

Tip: Do not let anyone pressure you into making investment decisions. Ask for written information and always get independent financial advice.

  • Threat-based scam – scammers pretending to be from a government, bank or other well-known institution will call, email or text you, saying that you owe money. They threaten that if you don’t pay immediately, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Tip: Watch out for unsolicited emails or phone calls saying you owe money. Check that the organisation, is legitimate, by contacting them directly. Try and get their details from an independent source, such as a phone directory. Beware of fake websites. Scammers send links to websites that look real, carrying the logos of well-known banks and other organisations.

  • Romance scams – scammers approach you on legitimate dating websites and build an online relationship with you, often over weeks, months or years. Once the relationship is established, they will start asking you for money.

Tip: Avoid sending money, personal or financial details to someone you have never met in person, especially if you are looking for love online.

  • Online selling scams – scammers pose as sellers and post fake advertisements offering non-existent products for low prices. These may appear on genuine websites, online classifieds and online auction sites

Tip: When selling items online, do not follow the links in a payment notification email to check whether the payment has arrived – log into your account directly.

Resources

Think you’re scam savvy? For more information visit consumer.vic.gov.au/scamsavvy

To report a scam, contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 or visit consumer.vic.gov.au/reportascam

* Names are fictional.

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