Scams

Threat and kidnap scams target Chinese community

The ACCC’s Scamwatch service is warning the Chinese community in Australia to be wary about two frightening scams targeting them that involve threats of arrest, and extortion via fake kidnappings.

In 2018, Scamwatch has received nearly 1700 reports about these scams, with losses totalling $1.15 million. Losses have come from NSW, Victoria, Queensland or Western Australia; however the scam is targeting people nationwide.

Beware of scammers impersonating energy and telecommunications companies

The ACCC is warning consumers to beware of scammers impersonating energy and telecommunications providers and demanding payments.

Scamwatch has received 5000 reports of fake billing scams in the last 12 months, with reported losses of close to $8000.

“The scammers typically impersonate well known companies such as Origin, AGL, Telstra and Optus via email, to fool people into assuming the bills are real,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Don't fall for a scammer's puppy dog eyes

Scamwatch is warning people to watch out for scammers setting up fake ads pretending to sell adorable puppies, with more than $310,000 lost and 584 reports about this scam in the past 12 months.

“Puppy scammers play on people’s emotions who have their heart set on a particular breed. Once they see that cute puppy picture in an ad, they drop their guard and tend to miss the warning signs they’re dealing with a scammer,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Don't friend a scammer this Valentine's Day

The ACCC is warning people to be careful about who they ‘friend’ online this Valentine’s Day with stats showing people are most likely to be preyed upon by dating and romance scammers on social media sites.

Australians reported losses of $20.5 million to Scamwatch from dating and romance scams in 2017 with more than 3700 reports. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Women lost nearly twice as much money as men and people aged 45 and over are most likely to be targeted.

Victims scammed via Western Union may get refunds

The ACCC’s Scamwatch is urging all Australians who lost money to a scammer through Western Union from 2004 to 2017 to take action by 31 May* to try to get it back.

Western Union has agreed to pay a penalty of US$586 million to the United States’ Department of Justice (DOJ) after admitting to aiding and abetting wire fraud. The DOJ is using this penalty to provide refunds to eligible people worldwide who were tricked into paying scammers via Western Union.

Beware opening a scammer's con this Christmas

The ACCC is warning the community to be wary of scammers trying to ruin their Christmas holidays.

“Scammers often try to take advantage of people during the busy Christmas period and prey on our vulnerabilities at this time of year. For example, they may take advantage of you looking for a good deal on a family holiday, searching for a loved one’s present at an online store, or even that you’re expecting a present from someone through the post.”

Watch out for three common holiday season scams:

Watch out for scammers when going online

This Stay Smart Online Week, the ACCC is warning the community to watch out for common online scams they might encounter.

The online sphere – email, the internet, social media and mobile apps – has overtaken telephones as scammers’ preferred tool of the trade to contact potential victims. In 2017, the ACCC’s Scamwatch site has received more than 51,000 reports of scammers trying to con people online. Online scam losses total nearly $37 million so far in 2017, with people aged 45 to 54 most likely to lose money.