27 September 2023

Scammers find rich pickings in WA

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Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet Year in Review has reported record scam losses of almost $16 million in 2022.

The report stated 1,203 people had lost a combined $15,988,513 — seven per cent up on 2021’s record losses.

Releasing the report, Minister for Commerce, Sue Ellery urged Western Australians to exercise caution to protect themselves from increasingly sophisticated scams, particularly when interacting with others online.

The report revealed online shopping and buying/selling scams claimed the most victims over the past year, while investment and romance scams recorded the highest financial losses.

A total of 274 online shoppers lost $876,774 and 270 buyers and sellers on classified sites lost $564,680.

Investment scams, mainly involving crypto currencies, were to blame for $6,980,254 in losses, while $2,871,468 was lost to dating/romance scams, with one individual’s loss of $800,000 reported in May 2022.

Ms Ellery said one of the most disturbing scams of the year involved people receiving texts from criminals masquerading as their children needing urgent funds.

The ‘Hi Mum/Dad’ scam tricked 59 WA victims into paying a total of $265,353.

“Scammers will often create a sense of urgency to prevent victims from taking time to verify that the contact is genuine or discussing it with others,” Ms Ellery said.

“They also try to pull on people’s heart strings, with the new ‘Hi Mum/Dad’ scam attempting to exploit a parent’s desire to help their children, and romance scammers preying on those who are simply looking for love.”

She urged people not to be rushed into making decisions or taking action, as impulsive decisions could end up costing them dearly.

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