Scamwatch: Bitumen bandits are back at it | Manning River Times | #phishing | #scams


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Every year, thousands of Australians are targeted by scams, whether it be online, via phone, mail or even in person. Australian Community Media has compiled a list of current scams identified on sites such as scamwatch.gov.au, www.cyber.gov.au and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s website dedicated to informing people about fraudulent and dishonest activities. Scamwatch has received reports of scams relating to COVID-19 vaccines including those that request payment for vaccines or for early access to vaccines; offers to mail vaccines; offers to pay money as an investment opportunity in the Pfizer vaccine and; fake surveys related to vaccines that offer prizes or early access. To avoid a vaccination scam: If you are asked for any of these by someone claiming to provide COVID-19 vaccines, it is a scam. Be careful when you get unexpected contact or messages – remember, scammers can impersonate the government too. Always source phone numbers independently from official government websites. Australian businesses reported over $14 million in losses to Scamwatch due to payment redirection scams last year, and average losses so far in 2021 are more than five times higher compared to average losses in the same period last year, according to scamwatch.gov.au In a payment redirection scam, also known as business email compromise scams, scammers impersonate a business or its employees via email and request that money, which usually is owed to the legitimate business, is sent to a fraudulent account. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, love is in the air and scammers are, unfortunately, active. Last year Australians reported a record-breaking $37 million lost to dating and romance scams and with Valentine’s Day on Sunday, Scamwatch is urging the public to be wary. Scammers are now using dating apps to lure victims into investment scams. Called romance baiting, this technique involves scammers meeting people on dating apps and then moving the conversation to an encrypted chat site. After a few weeks of developing a relationship, the scammer will begin asking about the victim’s finances and encourage them to participate in an investment opportunity. “These scams prey on people seeking connection and can leave victims with significant financial losses and emotional distress,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair, Delia Rickard, said. “While traditional dating and romance scams tend to target older Australians, almost half of all losses to romance baiting scams come from people under the age of 35.” Last year Scamwatch received over 400 reports of romance baiting scams. Scammers often encourage victims to initially transfer a small amount of money to prove how easy the investment is. Victims will be told to top up their accounts to increase their profits but when they run out of money to transfer, the scammer will cease all communication. Scammers may also use a technique called ‘love bombing’, where they contact the victim several times a day professing their feelings for them. The victim starts to develop feelings in return, making them more likely to participate in the investment scam. “Remember that you are in control and if you start to feel pressured by someone, stop communicating with them,” Ms Rickard said. “You can also do an internet search with the name or photo of your love interest or some of the phrases they have used to help identify if it is a scam.” If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances.

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