Sure, we’re all a tad more clued in now compared to the days of surprise lottery wins and foreign nationals claiming they need your help with their fortunes. However scams don’t go away, they just change form to try and trick an ever savvier audience.
In fact, the Nigerian Prince scam may not be working, but Aussies still lost over $142 million in 2019.
Which is exactly why cybersecurity is such an important and high-paying field, and one that isn’t going anywhere in the future. If you’ve ever wondered what a career as an internet James Bond looks like (actually though – you legit learn to hack in order to stop the hackers), get the lowdown from Information, Computer & Technology teacher at TAFE NSW, Stephen King, below.
For those of us who don’t have the IT savvy to see that we’re being duped, here are the top three online scams in Australia, according to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s ScamWatch reports.
According to the reports, the number one style of scam that got people last year was about fake investments – losing Aussies around the country over $60 million.
SmartMoney says the three main scams of this type are a completely false investment offers, based on a real investment but the scammers have nothing to do with, or someone pretending to represent a well-known investment company.
How can you avoid these scams? First of all, research. If they don’t have, or say they don’t need an Australian Financial Services (AFS) license, run, even if they have a bunch of fancy looking brochures to send you. If they call and email often or work very hard to keep you on the phone, run. If they push you to decide quickly, run run run.
Dating and romance scams
This one particularly boils my blood because obviously it’s picking on the lonely, broken-hearted and otherwise vulnerable. Aussies lost just under $30 million to these scammers last year. They know just how to play on the emotional triggers of people in order to convince them to send money, gifts or personal details.
Not surprisingly, contact most commonly happens on dating sites, but social media and email are also tools. Once they’ve gained your trust they often ask for money, gifts or banking deets – often with some sort of family disaster or similar event attached. Sometimes they’ll ask if they can send you something to post on, which is typically some form of laundering.
ScamWatch revealed that of the almost 4,000 reports of these types of scams, a third reported losing an average loss of more than $19,000.
Scare tactic scams
Third on the list, raking in just under $1 million for scammers, are those involving threats – often to your life or involving your arrest. I know that seems like it’d be easy to spot if people are coming out of nowhere, but when you receive a random yet convincing email claiming you owe money immediately for stuff like a speeding fine, tax office debt or unpaid bill – it’s not always as easy to maintain a logical head.
Especially considering these scammers particularly target the elderly and newly arrived migrants threatening visa problems – it’s sadly easy to see how they rake it in.
Just keep in mind that government agencies and other trusted brands would never pressure you that hard out of the blue. Try and keep a cool head and definitely read more tips here.
There are definitely more scams out there raking in the dough, including false billing, hacking and identity theft. This isn’t a problem that will be going away as the world becomes more digital, so keep educated.