SCAMwatch has been notified by UNICEF Australia that consumers are receiving scam emails and text messages purportedly from UNICEF. The emails offer fake employment opportunities while text messages claim that the receiver has been awarded £1 million as part of an ongoing ‘UNICEF investment grant’.

These scams appear to be a mixture of charity scams that try to exploit the compassionate and generous nature of Australians and money transfer scams that try to lure unsuspecting Australians into undertaking illegal money-laundering activity.

The email has UNICEF JOB OFFER in the subject line and advises that UNICEF is undertaking fundraising to conduct ‘a Charity Support Program in the tropical regions of the world’ to enhance the detection and prevention of serious health issues faced by children. The scammer makes out he is the program director in charge of fund-raising and offers employment, on a contract basis, as a ‘UNICEF Payment Representative’.

The email promises a ‘10% commission’ to receive donations from around the world (mostly in United States dollars), cash them and send the remainder overseas (after deducting the commission) to various ‘charity homes’ by Western Union money transfer or MoneyGram transfer.

The email asks you to forward personal details, including your name, address, age and phone numbers to the scammer’s email address based in Hong Kong (note: the email addresses used are not official UNICEF email accounts).

This type of scam usually also requires you to provide bank account details to allow deposits to be made. Once the scammer has these details, they can either strip your account or use these details to try to steal your identity.

Sometimes the scammers do make deposits as promised, but the money paid into your account may actually have been earned from criminal activity. If you transfer this money as directed, you may be participating in money laundering, which is illegal in Australia.

SCAMwatch has also been advised that fake UNICEF text messages are being circulated. The scam SMS says you have been awarded £1 million in the ongoing ‘UNICEF investment grant’. Bogus email addresses or phone numbers are provided for more information. SCAMwatch warns that this is most likely a different method of delivering the same scam.

SCAMwatch warns that scammers can easily create fake websites and email addresses and often use details and logos from legitimate organisations to trick consumers into believing it is the real thing.

Warning signs

  • You receive an offer that involves you receiving and sending money electronically.
  • The offer requests your account details so that money can be sent to your account.
  • There is a promise of employment simply by using your bank account, perhaps as an ‘account manager’ or ‘transfer manager’.
  • You are asked to send money by wire transfer.

Protect yourself

  • There are no shortcuts to wealth—the only people who make money are the scammers.
  • Do not open suspicious or unsolicited (spam) emails or SMSs—delete them.
  • Never reply to a spam email (even to unsubscribe).
  • Never send your personal, credit card or online account details through an email or sms—think about why you have been chosen to help the organisation.
  • If you receive unsolicited requests for your personal details or money always independently check that the request is genuine first.
  • Money laundering is a criminal offence—do not agree to transfer money for someone else.
  • Be wary of requests to send money by wire transfer—funds sent this way are extremely difficult to trace or recover.

More information

Find out more about money transfer schemes, business opportunity scams, SMS competition & trivia scams, charity scams and tips on how to protect yourself by visiting SCAMwatch.

Report a scam through the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.

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Investment scams involve promises of big payouts, quick money or guaranteed returns.