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ACCC warns of rising number of financial recovery scams

Scammers are posing as debt recovering services and promising to recover lost funds, says the ACCC’s National Anti-Scam Centre.

user icon David Hollingworth
Tue, 09 Jul 2024
ACCC warns of rising number of financial recovery scams
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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned of a new scam campaign targeting Australians, this time posing as a form of recovery service to recover funds already lost to scams – for an upfront fee or other cost, of course.

Such scams have risen significantly since December 2023, with 158 incidents reported to the ACCC’s Scamwatch program – a 129 per cent rise on the previous six-month period.

And the scams are costly, too. Those 158 reports add up to losses of more than $2.9 million, in some cases including the original scam victims are attempting to recover funds from. Older Australians, in particular, are being targeted and are subsequently the largest reporting group.


“Money recovery scams are damaging and cruel. Criminals prey on people who have already been victims of a scam [and] who hope to get their money back. They are another example of scammers’ willingness to exploit people’s desperation at a vulnerable moment,” ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said in a statement.

“Scammers pose as trusted parties such as government agencies, lawyers, or even charities. We are also aware of criminals pretending to be a victim themselves and claiming that a specific person or entity helped them get their money back.

“We are very concerned about revictimisation, which can compound both the financial and emotional harm caused by scams. For example, we know of a person who was the target of multiple scams in succession. What began as a romance baiting investment scam was followed by a money recovery scam, which led to a remote access scam, and finally identity theft.”

The scammers offer to recover funds for an upfront fee or a percentage of the funds recovered, but in fact, they are just hoping to harvest more personal information and funds. In some cases, Lowe said, victims were responding to online advertisements from scam websites.

“As part of our initial response, the National Anti-Scam Centre has referred two websites used in recovery scams for takedown action. One has been successfully taken down already,” Lowe said.

“Scams are crimes, and the criminals who prey on desperate people trying to recover in the aftermath are reprehensible. Anyone can be scammed, and that’s one of the reasons drawing attention to Scamwatch’s advice and resources is so important.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, report it to Scamwatch right away.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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