ACT Policing: International Day of Action against Mass Fraud (01 June 2010)

ACT Policing is working co-operatively with other police and government agencies to actively raise awareness of and educate the community about fraud that targets individuals and businesses.

Mass Marketed Advance Fee Fraud is most commonly referred to as a “scam”. It targets individuals regardless of age, gender, education or income level. Businesses are also targeted.

Today, there is a broader array of mass-marketing fraud schemes than ever before, using a variety of “pitches” such as lottery or sweepstakes winnings, investment or business opportunities, schemes that involve use of counterfeit cheques, and “romance” schemes in which victims are made to believe that the persons contacting them have sincere romantic feelings for them.

A variety of factors may lead an individual to respond to a solicitation, including the personalised nature of the approach and/or offering large sums of money. Often the inducement targeted at individuals involves them making small initial payments until such time as they feel the only way of receiving any return is to continue to trust that the solicitation is genuine.

Fraudsters are technologically savvy and use computers and mobile phones to their advantage. Scams have proliferated in this online environment because they offer a cheap mechanism to broadly disseminate fraudulent messaging. Our communities are increasingly being targeted by unidentified and overseas fraudsters because the technology now provides a means for this to occur easily across borders.

Fraudsters exploit jurisdictional boundaries to make detection, disruption and prosecution difficult for domestic law enforcement agencies.

Most scams need you to do something before they can work. You may send money to someone based on a promise that turns out to be false. You may give your personal details to people who turn out to be scammers. Some scams rely on you agreeing to deals without getting advice first or buying a product without checking it out properly.

ACT Policing recommends the following simple tips to help you protect yourself and your family from scams.

  • If it looks too good to be true – it probably is.
  • Use your common sense as the offer may be a scam.
  • ALWAYS get independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.
  • Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: the only people who make money are the scammers.
  • Do not agree to offers or deals straight away – tell the person that you are not interested or that you want to get some independent advice before making a decision.
  • NEVER send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
  • Check your bank account and credit card statements when you get them. If you see a transaction you cannot explain, report it to your credit union or bank.
  • Keep your credit and ATM cards safe. Do not share your personal identity number with anyone. Do not keep any written copy of your PIN with the card.

If you have been scammed or think you have seen a scam, there are many government agencies in Australia that you can contact for advice or to make a report. If you are not sure which agency would be the best one to contact in your circumstances, contact SCAMwatch (ACCC Infocentre) on 1300 795 995.

SCAMwatch is a website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). SCAMwatch provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams. ScamWatch website: www.scamwatch.gov.au

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