30th Aug 2011

Cyberscammers on the prowl


According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, Nigerian cyberscammers are doing some virtual pick-pocketing and older Australians are at risk.

These online scammers are known for targeting visitors of online dating sites and those who click on false job adverts. Many of these scammers are asking for what is called an “advance fee”. These “advance fee scams” request that individuals transfer large amounts of money upfront with the promise of large cash rewards from Nigerian princes and other false identities to follow.

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology 202 Victorians have recently fallen victim to these scams and around 4 in every 10 victims were aged 55 or over. On the whole, Victorians have lost $1.4 million to these Nigerian scammers, with an average of $12,000 dollars lost per individual. Some people even went as far as taking out loans or remortgaging their homes to make the payment. Police are urging victims to come forward but in the meantime, it is advised that internet browsers proceed with caution.

What should you look out for?

  • promises of large cash amounts from Nigerian princes (or other fake identities) in exchange for an online money transfer
  • online dating websites which ask for personal details and bank information
  • inheritance scams which inform you of an inheritance owed to you from a distant overseas relative and ask for your bank details so that they can deposit the money
  • agreeing to transfer money for somebody else. Not only do they have access to your account, but they are able to launder money under your name.

If you know anyone who has become a victim of these cyber scams, contact the police for assistance or read more about the Nigerian scams at SCAMwatch.

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30th Aug 2011
If it looks too good to be true (even if it just looks goodish but you aren't absolutely sure you know the person who sent it to you), trash it! Any 'offer', even just an advertisement, that contains spelling errors, clunky grammar, references to Microsoft, IBM or other global companies that we all trust is basically guaranteed to be a scam. Check the email address it came from - if it is not one you recognise in Australia, it is almost certain to be a con. There are soooo many easy ways to pick a dodgy email even without being all that technology-savvy, it is amazing how many people get caught. If you wouldn't do it in the real world, why would you think it safe to do in cyberspace?

The sophisticated scammers have some really clever ways of tricking us into parting with our hard-earned, but there is no excuse for being conned by the huge majority of really simplistic thieves wanting access to our wallets.
30th Aug 2011
I have a prepaid phone, and recently I had a text message supposedly from Telstra, telling me I need to update my credit card details as my visa card was about to expire, which incidently was correct. For a moment I was confused, but I knew that Telsta didn't have my credit card details as I always buy my top up at the store and enter the pin myself. I rang Telstra and they informed me that it was indeed a scam. So how they new it was about to expire is scary, is this a police matter, can they, or indeed do they follow these things up?
30th Aug 2011
Hi Philary,
Phone numbers associated with Telstra are generally very similar and therefore, scammers can sent large numbers of text messages to a large range of numbers on a network. As there are only two choices, Visa and Mastercard, and more Australians have a Visa, it makes sense for them to target people with a Visa. Once more, Our cards only last for 2-3 years on average.. so one in 30 of those using a Visa will be set to expire soon. It is pretty much a hit and miss scam operation relying on volume.

Regarding Police follow-up, I am unsure how they act upon this as most likely the number you have been given is only active for a few days and then scammers would change it after that (most likely set-up online). I personally would try and pass it on as it may lead to an arrest down the track.
30th Aug 2011
Microsoft, Sweden - a computer prize and cheque is a scam. They expect you to pay freight, then taxes for cheque. I rand Microsoft who confirmed it is a scam. It was also stated that was a Toshiba Computer and they also confirmed it was a scam. I have had the same scam twice in less than 18 months.
Another scam is an inheritance one is from a lawyer, which has his name in google as being in London and being a Lawyer. It also involves HMRC (using name of Govt. Dept in UK), a pariticular bank, and another lawyer. The documents they email look legit. In actual fact he uses computer via skype or similar to find phone numbers as well as sending emails. He has sent the same email to hundreds of people using smae details except surname.
31st Aug 2011
These are the basic 'anti' scam rules I use when it comes to emails.
I immediately delete emails that:
- request my financial details (a legitimate company would never request this).
- advise I have won a large sum of money in a lottery or prize draw which I have never entered.
- refer to me as a 'dear friend', 'close confidant' or 'honest soul' etc when I have never had any previous contact with the sender.
- don't have a company logo, use poor grammar and have multple spelling errors.
- relate details of a series sickness or hardship in which the sender needs monetary donations (legitimate charities would not do this).
- request I become a partner/distributor in a business the sender wishes to establish in Australia.
Finally I always ask myself does it sound to good to be true? Because nobody does something for nothing. NOBODY!
31st Aug 2011
To keep safe online from scams and spam receive alert emails from these two services, the information is invaluable.
Register with this government site for scam alert emails
Register with Stay Smart Online Alert Service

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