Aussie victims report 725 per cent explosion in cruel new ‘money recovery’ scams
Posted On April 5, 2022
Vulnerable Australians are facing a barrage of new online scams that cruelly target people who have already been the victim of cybercrime.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning Australians to be vigilant for money recovery scams, which promise to return funds lost to scams following an initial payment.
In 2022 alone, the ACCC’s Scamwatch has received 66 reports of money recovery scams, marking a 725 per cent increase on the same period in 2021.
The way the scam works is deceptively simple: scammers target previous victims, contacting them randomly and posing as a trusted organisation such as a law firm, fraud taskforce or a government agency.
They then request that the victim make an upfront payment and provide identity documents in return for the “trusted” organisation refunding money originally taken by the scammer.
In many instances the scammer will provide official-looking websites and fake testimonials to increase trust with the victim, and may request remote access to computers or smart phones.
This year alone Australians have lost over $270,000 to money recovery scams – an increase of 301 per cent on the same period in 2021.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said money recovery scams are “particularly nasty” as they target people who have already fallen victim to a scam.
“If you get contacted out of the blue by someone offering to help recover scam losses for a fee, it is a scam,” Ms Rickard said.
“Hang up the phone, delete the email and ignore any further contacts.
“Don’t give financial details or copies of identity documents to anyone who you’ve never met in person and never give strangers remote access to your devices.
“Scammers can be very convincing and one way to spot them is to search online for the name of the organisation who contacted you with words like ‘complaint’, ‘scam’ or ‘review’.”
Ms Rickard advised people who think they have lost money to a scam to contact their bank or financial institution as soon as possible.
“If they are not happy with the financial institutions response, victims can make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority which is a free and independent dispute resolution service,” the ACCC advises.
“Financial institutions may be able to find where the money was sent, block the scam accounts and help others to avoid sending money to scammers.”
How to protect yourself from being scammed
Question the urgency. Fraudsters don’t want to give you the time to think things through rationally and use your better judgement. Instead, they’ll insist that you take action immediately.
Be cautious with your personal details. Don’t feel pressured to give personal information away over the phone, no matter who the call or text is supposedly coming from. The same goes with your credit card details. If you’re shopping online, make sure the website is using a secure server. The URL should start with “https” rather than “http”.
Beware of attachments. Never open email attachments or links in text messages if they’re from an unknown source. There have been phishing emails and texts appearing to come from well-known companies, so it always pays to be cautious.
Verify with credible sources. If you’re still not sure, check with friends or family members to see whether they’ve received a similar message. You can also check the Scamwatch website for updates on any recent scams making the rounds.