Top five scams ex­posed

The Tatura Guardian - - News -

Fake bills, sham re­funds and bo­gus lottery prizes are among the top five scams tar­get­ing Vic­to­ri­ans, the state’s con­sumer watchdog has re­vealed.

Con­sumer Af­fairs Min­is­ter Jane Gar­rett said money trans­fer scams topped the list with more than 400 com­plaints to Con­sumer Af­fairs Vic­to­ria in 2014-15.

This new nasty trend in­cludes the re­fund scam which of­ten in­volves a con artist of­fer­ing large sums of money in ex­change for an up-front pay­ment.

Scam­mers pre­tend they are from a rep­utable bank, or­gan­i­sa­tion or gov­ern­ment depart­ment, such as the Aus­tralian Tax Of­fice, to fool peo­ple into pay­ing money or hand­ing over their bank de­tails.

The end of the fi­nan­cial year is a peak time of year for scam­mers to tar­get peo­ple lodg­ing their tax re­turns.

In 2014-15, Con­sumer Af­fairs Vic­to­ria re­ceived more than 1250 re­ports of scams. As of June 15, the top five were: 1. Money trans­fer scams (the prom­ise of a cash re­fund for a fee) more than 400 re­ports;

2. False billing scams/unau­tho­rised advertising (a fake in­voice from an or­gan­i­sa­tion)— 170 re­ports;

3. In­vest­ment and fi­nan­cial scams (get­rich-quick by in­vest­ing in fake shares or prop­erty) — 140 re­ports;

4. Phish­ing/Smish­ing/Vish­ing (steal­ing per­sonal de­tails via email, text or voice­mail) — 110 re­ports;

5. Bo­gus lot­ter­ies or prizes (the prom­ise of cash or ma­te­rial prizes for a fee)— 80 re­ports.

Ms Gar­rett said Aus­tralians were pop­u­lar tar­gets for scam­mers be­cause our gov­ern­ments of­fer many le­git­i­mate re­bate and in­cen­tive schemes.

‘‘These con artists will use your emo­tions against you.

‘‘They prey on hard-work­ing Vic­to­ri­ans, trick­ing hon­est peo­ple into giv­ing up their hard earned money,’’ she said.

‘‘Peo­ple need to be on guard, es­pe­cially dur­ing tax time, when scam­mers come out of the wood­work pre­tend­ing they are from the Aus­tralian Tax Of­fice, and claim­ing you’ll get a tax re­fund if you pay a fee.

‘‘If it sounds too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is.

‘‘Talk to your friends or fam­ily be­fore hand­ing over any cash and do your home­work first.’’

The latest fig­ures from the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion show Vic­to­ri­ans lost $20.4 mil­lion to scam­mers in 2014.

Con­sumer Af­fairs Vic­to­ria said peo­ple should al­ways be wary of un­so­licited emails, phone calls or letters say­ing they have un­claimed funds, won prizes or are owed money.

You can also dob in a scam at the Con­sumer Af­fairs Vic­to­ria web­site www.con­sumer.vic.gov.au/scams

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