The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning citizens about the rise of money recovery scams, where scammers promise to help their victims recover their losses after they pay a fee in advance. ACCC figures show that Australians lost over $270,000 through money recovery scams in the first quarter of 2022 – an increase of 725 per cent on the first quarter of 2021. The number of money recovery scams is expected to increase dramatically this year, as scammers may contact previous victims randomly, or pose as reputable organisations.
Money recovery scams are a common way for crooks to steal money. They may ask for money upfront or request identity documents. Some may even have official-looking websites and fake testimonials, and they may ask for remote access to computers or smartphones. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says money recovery scams are particularly nasty.
Pausing as government agents
Besides scamming individuals through online scams, scammers can also pose as government agencies, law firms, and fraud task forces. Scammers often ask for personal information such as bank account numbers and other sensitive information. If you are unsure whether the information you’ve received is genuine, hang up immediately and contact your bank. If you’re not satisfied, contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
Scammers can be hard to spot because they advertise online. They use professional-looking websites and impersonate legitimate companies. Then, they ask for payments through instruments such as crypto-assets – high-risk, volatile investments. Payments made through these means are nearly impossible to trace or recover, and the scammers may even pretend to be a friend or acquaintance. And, they may be offering unrealistic returns.
Another scam that’s causing many people grief is cryptocurrency-related. The Australian Federal Police recently released a report on cryptocurrency-related scams, saying the industry has “exploded”. A consumer watchdog said losses from cryptocurrency-related money recovery scams in Australia have reached $109 million. These scams are very difficult to detect, as victims are often too distressed to report their experience. A social media ad lures them to fill out their personal details, making them easy targets.
What to do if you have lost money
If you have lost money in a money recovery scam, the first step is to report it to government agencies. You can visit IDCARE, Australia’s national identity and cyber support service. You should also inform friends and family about the scam, and never forward unsolicited emails to others. Finally, contact your bank or financial firm and make a formal complaint to the AFCA, Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
When it comes to scams in Australia, the ACCC is the most authoritative authority. The ACCC website Scamwatch is particularly helpful. However, it is vitally important to remain vigilant. There’s no substitute for good security. Besides losing your money, these scams can lead to significant psychological damage and identity theft. Many victims have already lost a lot of money, and identity information. Don’t become a victim! And remember, scammers are targeting everyone, including senior citizens.
Scam Help is a reliable funds recovery agency. Please start with our free consultation to help you assess the chances of recovering any funds you might have lost.