Fake bills, sham refunds and bogus lottery prizes are among the top five scams targeting Victorians, the state’s consumer watchdog has revealed.
Minister for Consumer Affairs Jane Garrett said money transfer scams topped the list with more than 400 complaints to Consumer Affairs Victoria in 2014-15.
This new nasty trend includes the ‘refund’ scam which often involves a con artist offering large sums of money in exchange for an upfront payment.
Scammers pretend they are from a reputable bank, organisation or government department, such as the Australian Tax Office, to fool people into paying money or handing over their bank details.
The end of the financial year is a peak time of year for scammers to target people lodging their tax returns.
In 2014-15, Consumer Affairs Victoria received more than 1250 reports of scams. As of June 15, the top five were:
- Money Transfer Scams (the promise of a cash refund for a fee) – more than 400 reports
- False Billing Scams / Unauthorised Advertising (a fake invoice from an organisation) –170 reports
- Investment & Financial Scams (get-rich-quick by investing in fake shares or property) –140 reports
- Phishing / Smishing / Vishing (stealing personal details via email, text or voicemail) – 110 reports
- Bogus Lotteries or Prizes (the promise of cash or material prizes for a fee) – 80 reports
Ms Garrett said Australians were popular targets for scammers because our governments offer many legitimate rebate and incentive schemes.
The latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) show Victorians lost $20,411,511 to scammers in 2014.
Consumer Affairs Victoria said people should always be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls or letters saying they have unclaimed funds, won prizes or are owed money.
Quotes attributable to Minster for Consumer Affairs, Gaming & Liquor Regulation, Jane Garrett
“These con artists will use your emotions against you. They prey on hard-working Victorians, tricking honest people into giving up their hard earned money.”
“People need to be on guard, especially during tax time, when scammers come out of the woodwork pretending they are from the Australian Tax Office, and claiming you’ll get a tax refund if you pay a fee.”
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Talk to your friends or family before handing over any cash and do your homework first."
Reviewed 19 August 2020