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Common scams targeting consumers

The consumer market is changing with the digital age. While this benefits consumers, it’s also providing scammers with the opportunity to use the internet, email, apps and social media platforms to target their victims.

Be aware that if a platform is popular with consumers, it will also be popular with scammers.

Online shopping scams

The scammer uses the latest technology to set up a fake website that looks like a genuine online retail store (it may even be a copy of a real website). They use sophisticated designs and layouts, possibly stolen logos, and even a ‘.com.au’ domain name to try and fool you. Payment might be requested using unusual methods such as a money order, iTunes gift card, international funds or wire transfer, or virtual currency (e.g Bitcoin). It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get your money back once you send it to a scammer.

Tip: Find more information at Online shopping scams.

Dating and romance scams

The scammer creates a fake profile and contacts you through online dating websites or social media, expressing strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time. The scammer will ask you (subtly or directly) for money, gifts or your banking/credit card details. They may also ask you to send intimate pictures or videos of yourself. The scammer is hoping to gain your interest and trust, and take advantage of your vulnerabilities.

Tip: Find more information at Dating and romance scams.

Malware and ransomware scams

Graphic of bomb with skull
The scammer tricks you into downloading or installing a virus that infects your computer system with malware (malicious software). This type of software blocks or limits access to your computer or files, and the scammer will commonly demand a ransom be paid for them to be ‘unlocked’.

In addition to stealing your money, the scammer is hoping to gain access to your personal information to commit fraud, or carry out illegal business under your name.


Tip: Find more information at Malware and ransomware.