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ACCC reports another spike in money recovery scams

The ACCC’s Scamwatch is warning people to be aware of uninvited offers of help to recover money for an up-front payment, following a spike in reports of money recovery scams.

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Tue, 05 Apr 2022
ACCC reports another spike in money recovery scams
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Australians have lost over $270,000 to these scams so far this year, an increase of 301 per cent.

The scammers are targeting people who have already lost money to a previous scam by promising to help victims recover their losses after paying a fee in advance, according to Scamwatch.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard further explained that scammers will ask for money and personal information before offering to “help” the victim and will then disappear and stop all contact.

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“Money recovery scams are particularly nasty as they target scam victims again.

“These scams can lead to significant psychological distress as many of the people have already lost money or identity information,” Rickard said.

This year, Scamwatch has received 66 reports of money recovery scams, a 725 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2021.

Scammers contact previous scam victims out of the blue and pose as a trusted organisation such as a law firm, fraud taskforce or government agency. They may have official-looking websites and use fake testimonials from other victims they have helped”.

As well as an up-front payment, scammers often ask victims to fill out fake paperwork or provide identity documents. The scammers may request remote access to computers or smart phones, enabling them to scam their unsuspecting victims.

Another tactic scammers use to target people who haven’t actually been a victim of a scam, is via phone or email, in order to convince them that they've unknowingly been involved in one and are entitled to a settlement refund.

Rickard warned that getting contacted out of the blue by someone offering to help recover scam losses for a fee is a scam.

“Hang up the phone, delete the email and ignore any further contacts.

“Don’t give financial details or copies of identity documents to anyone who you've never met in person and never give strangers remote access to your devices.

“Scammers can be very convincing and one way to spot them is to search online for the name of the organisation who contacted you with words like ‘complaint’, ‘scam’ or ‘review’, Rickard said.

The ACCC advises that people who have lost money to a scam should contact their bank or financial institution as soon as possible. If they are not happy with the financial institutions response, victims can make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority which is a free and independent dispute resolution service. Financial institutions may be able to find where the money was sent, block the scam accounts and help others to avoid sending money to scammers.

People who are a victim of a scam or identity theft should act quickly to reduce the risk of financial loss or other damages. IDCARE is a free government-funded service which will help to develop a specific response plan. They will never contact you out of the blue.

For more advice on how to avoid scams and what to do if you or someone you know is a victim of a scam, visit the Scamwatch website.

[Related: Cybermerc joins ADF cyber program]

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