Chinese telemarketing scam offering fake prizes to steal your money!

18 December 2008

SCAMwatch is once again warning members of the community, particularly the Chinese community, to take note of family or friends who say they have unexpectedly won a lot of money from someone who has called them from Hong Kong.

Complaints to SCAMwatch and the ACCC's Infocentre show that this scam is again on the rise with significant losses reported.

Scammers appear to be targeting phone subscribers with Chinese surnames; however, others are also being caught out. Often the caller speaks in Mandarin or Cantonese.

Recipients of the call are told they have won a 'prize'. In order to secure their 'win' they must send money immediately. Sometimes they are told they must pay for a special membership or for various fees and taxes.

Some recipients have also reported that the initial phone call is an invitation to participate in a survey or to announce a new business in the area, such as a hotel. The scammer may also invite the recipient to a special event or function.

The scammer usually requests money to be sent via wire transfer but in some cases may ask for a bank transfer.

Scammers will go to great lengths to convince consumers that their requests are genuine. Some consumers have reported that they were provided with supposed winners' local phone numbers so that they could verify their 'win'. Testing of the numbers has shown that they are unlikely to be genuine local numbers as they appear to be routed overseas or internet based numbers.

Scammers can be very persuasive. SCAMwatch warns consumers to hang up when they receive a similar call. Once money is paid, it is next to impossible to recover!

Warning signs

  • An unexpected phone call from someone based in Hong Kong telling you that you have won a large sum of money.
  • They insist that you need to send money to claim the 'prize'.
  • If money is sent, the scammer will keep making various excuses to convince you to send more money.
  • You are given a local phone number to call so that you can speak with someone else who is also supposed to be a winner.

Protect yourself

  • Hang up if you receive similar telemarketing calls! Be suspicious of any unexpected prizes from telemarketers, letters or spammers.
  • Ask yourself: If I have won so much money why don't they take the money from my winnings?
  • Tell your family and friends about this scam, especially if English is not their first language.
  • Don't send money to anyone you don't know and trust.
  • 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.
  • And remember: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!

Report

Report the matter on the report a scam page in SCAMwatch.

More information

Explore SCAMwatch to find out more about lottery, sweepstakes and competition scams, including fake prizes, and how you can protect yourself.

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