Is a hitman after you? Hmmm, sounds like a scam
THERE are many different types of scams and some can be more convincing than others.
You only have to listen to Lismore woman Janet Wetzler's recorded phone conversations with fraudsters to hear that. But she was one of the lucky ones, catching on before it was too late.
Figures from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch show last year Australians lost a whopping $229 million to scams.
Many of these are constantly changing and evolving.
To help you avoid becoming a victim, we've compiled information from the Scamwatch website on some of the most common scams and what to look out for.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. This scam works by the scammer trying to convince the victim they have won, inherited or are owed a large sum of money.
Inheritance: A scammer may contact you out of the blue and tell you that you can claim a large inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy benefactor. They'll usually pose as a lawyer, banker or other foreign official. All you need to do is transfer money and provide personal details to 'access' or 'claim' your absurdly large and previously unheard of inheritance.
Nigerian scams: If a Nigerian prince really had millions of dollars at his disposal, chances are he wouldn't need you, random Australian citizen, to help him access it. But these scammers will try to convince you otherwise. They'll give you an elaborate fake story about large sums 'trapped' in central banks during civil wars or coups. All you have to do is send a reasonable amount of money to help the poor prince access his absurd wealth and he'll reward you generously. These particular scams can come in a range of different forms including email, letter, text or social media message.
Reclaim scam: Reclaim scams try to convince you that you are entitled to a rebate or reimbursement from the government, a bank or trusted organisation. As with the last two scams, you'll be asked to pay an 'administration fee' to access your reimbursement. The contact may come by mail, telephone, email, text or social media.
Up-front payment and advanced fee frauds: These types of scams will ask you to send money up-front in order to receive some sort of 'reward' later on. This can be a prize, discount holiday or pre-approved loan.
THE only thing worse than scamming money out of people is diverting much needed funds away from charities in the process. That's exactly what this scam does. The fraudsters will contact you, impersonating genuine charities and ask for donations. Some of the warning signs are being put under pressure or made to feel guilty or selfish if you don't want to donate. To avoid being tricked, Scamwatch recommends people check the organisation's name and look them up, never giver personal information and approach charity organisations directly to make donations.
Dating and romance
These scammers try to take advantage of lonely people looking for love, often via dating websites, apps or social media. They create fake profiles and identities and lure victims in with loving words, claims of strong emotions and even gifts. Once they think they've gained your trust, they will ask you for money, gifts or banking/credit card details for some sort of personal emergency.
This one plays out with scammer threatening your life unless you give into their demands and pay thousand of dollars to be spared. The scammer pretending to be a hitman contacts you out of the blue telling you that they have been hired to take you out, but will spare you if you pay them money. A typical message reads: 'Someone paid me to kill you. If you want me to spare you, I'll give you two days to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, you will die. I am monitoring you.' This one can be quite unnerving, even scary, but rest assured it's a scam and no one has paid to have you killed.