26 September 2023

ACCC warns of money scam heartache

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning members of the community to be aware of uninvited offers of help to recover money for an upfront payment.

Deputy Chair of the ACCC, Delia Rickard said the Commission’s Scamwatch website had received a spike in reports of money recovery scams.

Ms Rickard said this year Scamwatch had received 66 reports of money recovery scams, a 725 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2021.

She said the scams targeted people who had already lost money to a previous scam by promising to help victims recover their losses after paying a fee in advance.

“Australians have lost over $270,000 to these scams so far this year, an increase of 301 per cent,” Ms Rickard said.

“Scammers will ask for money and personal information before offering to ‘help’ the victim and will then disappear and stop all contact.”

The Deputy Chair said money recovery scams were particularly nasty as they targeted scam victims again.

“These scams can lead to significant psychological distress as many of the people have already lost money or identity information,” she said.

Ms Rickard said scammers targeted previous scam victims, contacting them out of the blue and posing as a trusted organisation such as a law firm, fraud taskforce or Government Agency.

“They may have official-looking websites and use fake testimonials from other victims they have ‘helped’,” she said.

“As well as an upfront payment, they often ask victims to fill out fake paperwork or provide identity documents.

“Scammers may request remote access to computers or smart phones, enabling them to scam their unsuspecting victims,” Ms Rickard said.

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