Scammers continue to target everyone, regardless of age, gender, education or income level. Scams can cost people a lot of money and cause a great deal of distress.
Scams are increasingly sophisticated and use a variety of tactics, excuses and lies to convince you that it is a genuine request.
Almost everyone will be approached by a scammer at some stage. Common types of scams include a surprise lottery win in the mail, email from your bank, the ‘free’ holidays and ‘guaranteed income’ scams.
The majority of complaints received by the ACCC involve advance fee/up-front payment scams. The aim of this type of scam is to trick victims into sending money up front by using inventive and seemingly legitimate reasons for doing so- for example, to claim a bigger prize, benefit or simply appealing to people’s emotional side.
An example of the advance fee/up-front payment scams includes a recent scam targeting vulnerable members, especially elderly and retired people, within Australia’s Croatian community.
The scammer is identifying themself as a Croatian Consular official living overseas. They will tell the victim that a member of their extended family is in trouble and money is required for various reasons. Common excuses include sickness and airfares to return home.
Victims are then asked to transfer funds through money wire transfer to an account based overseas. In most cases, the scammer will make repeat phone calls to ask for more money. Once money is sent, it is often difficult or impossible to get it back.
SCAMwatch has also issued this scam alert in Croatian to help raise awareness. SCAMwatch urges you to warn your family, friends and colleagues who might be at risk.
Follow these golden rules to help protect yourself and your family from scams.
If it looks too good to be true—it probably is.
Use your common sense: the offer may be a scam.
ALWAYS get independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.
Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: the only people who make money are the scammers.
Do not agree to offers or deals straight away: tell the person that you are not interested or that you want to get some independent advice before making a decision.
NEVER send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
Check your bank account and credit card statements when you get them. If you see a transaction you cannot explain, report it to your credit union or bank.
Keep your credit and ATM cards safe. Do not share your personal identity number with anyone. Do not keep any written copy of your PIN with the card.
Advance fee fraud/up-front payments
Be suspicious of all unsolicited calls and emails received from out-of-the-blue.
If in doubt, speak to your family and friends to get a second opinion. You should also contact the Croatian Embassy on 02 6286 6988.
Don’t forget that scammers always lie! They usually claim to represent highly reputable organisations, banks and government agencies to trick their victims.
Tell your family and friends about this scam, especially if English is not their first language.
If a close friend or family member suddenly starts to transfer large sums of money overseas, you may wish to discuss this with them. If you think they are sending the money to a scammer you may need to stop them.
If you have been contacted by a scammer, report the matter to the ACCC’s Infocentre on 1300 302 502. To speak to the ACCC in Croatian, call 131 450 and ask the interpreter to contact the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502 for you. You should also contact the Croatian Embassy on 02 6286 6988.