SCAMwatch and Consumer and Business Services in South Australia are warning people throughout the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands to beware of scam distress emails targeting the area.

How the scam works

  • You receive an email from someone you know, such as a work colleague or contact claiming they have been robbed whilst attending a work conference overseas.
  • Recent reports have shown that the scammer claims to have been robbed whilst in Spain, however scammers may use any overseas location.
  • The email will say they urgently need to borrow money, often more than $3,000. They will ask for this money by wire or international money transfer. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
  • The scammer will have hacked into someone’s email account who has your contact details. This is why the email appears to be from someone you know.
  • In recent times scammers have pretended to be a colleague, friend, family member or work contact.
  • The scammer will send the same email requesting money to every contact in the address book of the hacked email account.
  • If you respond with your own contact details you may risk having your own email account hacked.
  • If you send money this will go directly to the scammer and not to your colleague, friend or family member.
  • The scammer will also delete all email addresses from the address book of the hacked email account so the account owner cannot warn their contacts of the scam.

Protect yourself

  • If you receive an unexpected request for money from what appears to be a colleague, friend or family member, contact them directly via another means to check the request is genuine before sending money. Do not use any of the contact details from the email
  • Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam): delete them. NEVER reply, not even to unsubscribe.
  • NEVER send your online account details via email and think carefully before you give away any personal or financial information.
  • Keep your computer updated with the latest anti-virus and anti-spy ware software. Also use a good firewall.


If you think that you have been targeted by this scam please contact Consumer and Business Services for assistance on 13 1882.

You can also report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.

More information

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Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else's identity to steal money or gain other benefits.