Press delete, throw it out, shut the door or just hang up. That is the latest consumer advice to avoid becoming a fraud target as scammers are becoming even more sophisticated in their methods and willingness to spend the time to setup elaborate scams to find your vulnerable spot.
The ACCC’s third annual Targeting Scams Report tells the unfortunate but important story of 83,150 scams being reported by consumers and small businesses in 2011, almost double that of 2010 when 42,385 scams were reported. What concerns me is the number of scams that go unreported because people feel too embarrassed or helpless to speak out.
At the end of the day, it’s the same story; scammers are looking to take advantage of you and will go so far as to play on your emotions and make you feel guilty for not trusting them. All they want is to rip off your money, identity, bank details, or personal information – and this can leave you feeling embarrassed for trusting someone who took advantage of you, or helpless because there is nothing you can do to stop the scammer.
I think one of the best ways we can overcome these barriers is to raise awareness about the different type of scams in circulation – by sharing our personal stories and experiences with each other.
To help launch the ACFT’s National Consumer Fraud Week, I participated in a storytelling discussion panel where I shared a story about a recent fraud case we investigated. This particular case involved scammers recruiting unsuspecting mules on dating websites and persuading them to purchase mobile handsets from Telstra. The mobiles were then shipped overseas for re-selling and the recruiters were promised the profit made from selling these mobiles would pay for a VISA application, so the person they thought they were helping could travel to Australia and continue their relationship.
Dating website scams not only feature in the top 10 list of scams affecting Australians, but are one of the more lucrative types of scam with almost five per cent of consumers who reported a loss in 2011 losing more than $100,000.
This pocket-sized edition of ‘The Little Black Book of Scams’ is brought to you by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the national consumer protection agency. The Little Black Book of Scams is recognised internationally as an important tool for consumers and small businesses to learn about scams and we have limited copies to giveaway for free. If you can’t make it into on of the stores mentioned below you can download a copy from the ACCC, or order one online.
Icon Store, 246 Bourke St (coming soon!)
So if you meet someone special online and they ask you to purchase multiple mobile handsets and ship them overseas: press delete, throw it out, shut the door or just hang up! Never allow your identity or address to be used in fraudulent purchases of any description.
Watch the video below: listen to my full story about the Mobile Fraud Dating Mule case…
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