Fraudsters Gain Your Trust, and then Steal Your Money.
They use any means to contact victims—telephone, snail mail, email, and the Internet. They gain your trust and when they have you hooked, they ask you for money; then they take it and run. The scenarios they use to lure you in change, constantly. But you can protect yourself and your friends and family by arming yourself with knowledge of the most common types of fraud.
Types of Scams
Romance / Relationship
The romance scam starts simply: A man and woman meet on the Internet. The relationship progresses: They email, talk on the phone and trade pictures, may meet for coffee for 30 minutes and then finally plan to get married. As the relationship progresses, things start to change. The partner who they met online now asks them to send money; the reasons can vary for example they need money to visit a sick relative. The first send is small but the requests keep on coming and amounts growing – their child needs emergency surgery, they need airfare to come for a visit or to pay a travel agent for Visa and airfares, etc. The payback promises are empty and then the money’s gone and so are they.
Lottery / Scratch & Win Prize
Lottery or prize scams follow similar patterns:
In some cases victims may receive an unexpected phone call, text, email, letter or fax claiming to represent a well-known company, celebrity or government agency, notifying them that they have won a large sum of money.
A sample pattern of the Lottery or prize scam:
1. A victim receives a letter in the mail from an Overseas Travel company which includes a Travel brochure along with Scratch & Win tickets.
2. The victim scratches the tickets and wins a large sum of money, now they must contact the company to claim the winnings.
3. When the victim contacts the Travel Company they advise the letter was sent in error, as the victim is not a member, they are not eligible for the prize. The Travel Company states the company will award the prize if the victim does not tell anyone.
4. The scammer gains their victim’s trust and explains that, in order to collect the winnings, the person must send a sum of money to pay for processing fees or taxes. Following the instructions, the victim immediately sends the money. Unfortunately the request is rarely a ‘one-off’ and is followed on by various requests for more money. The victim never gets their “winnings” and loses their money paid for “fees and taxes”
Selling Goods Online
You're selling a car, motorbike or caravan etc. online when contacted by a potential buyer from overseas or interstate.
1. The potential buyer states they have overpaid into your online payment service providers account like PayPal, Google, etc. and you receive an email from your online payment service provider confirming the overpayment. You are advised the funds will not be released until the overpayment is returned with a request for this to be made by money transfer. You follow instructions and return the overpayment, however the online payment service provider email was fake and you never hear from the “buyer” again.
2. The potential buyer states as they live or have just moved overseas, they need the vehicle transported to them. The “potential buyer” requests for you to pay for a courier/transport company via money transfer. You follow instructions and send the courier/transport company costs and then never hear from the “buyer” again.
In the internet purchase scam, criminals prey on victims who are looking to find a particular item for a cheaper price via an online marketplace or online auction website. The buyer is requested to make payment for the purchase or successful bid via a money transfer. The money is sent but the buyer never receives the goods.
Emergency / Grandparent
Emergency scams play off of peoples’ emotions and strong desire to help others in need. Scammers pretend to be their victim or victim's relative and make up an urgent situation:
- I’ve been arrested
- I’ve been mugged
- I’m in the hospital
The scammer targets friends and family with urgent pleas for help and money. Emergency scams also come in all shapes and sizes. There’s the Grandparent Scam where con artists contact the elderly claiming to be their grandchild, urgently asking for money. Social networking can be involved where scammers hack into social networking accounts and then target friends with frantic requests for money, claiming injury, arrest, stolen wallet while overseas, etc.; they do the same by hacking email accounts. They use the information in these accounts to supply enough personal detail to make their requests appear genuine.
Sophisticated scammers use the Internet, and particularly free classified websites, to prey on unsuspecting real estate victims. Renters are looking for a house or an apartment to lease and get scammed by a person pretending to be the “owner.” Victims come across a property in a great area, at a great price. The advertisement looks legitimate so they start communicating with the “owner,” generally by email. The owner says the place is theirs if they send a money transfer to cover an application fee, security deposit, etc. The victim sends the money and then never hears from the “owner” again.
Employment scams generally start with a too-good-to-be-true offer—work from home and earn thousands of dollars a month, no experience needed—and results with a victim out of a ‘job’ and out of money. They generally follow one of two patterns:
1. Scammers pose as ‘recruiters’ pitching offers of guaranteed employment or as ‘employers’ extending job offers on the condition that victims pay up front for things like credit checks or application or recruitment fees. Victims pay, but the job never existed.
2. Scammers pose as ‘company’ representatives and seek sensitive personal and/or financial information from victims under the guise of doing credit or background checks. They then target victims later on for identity theft and may apply for credit/loans in the victim's name.
Think you've been scammed?
Report it. You can help us and, in the process, help others from getting scammed in the future.
Call our Fraud Hotline at
1800 023 324
Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org