If you’ve been getting weird scam calls and voicemails and wondered how much money people can make from them, here’s your answer.
Australians have lost more than $8.8 million just this year to ‘threat-based scammers’, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s ScamWatch.
Threat-based scammers are people pretending to be authority figures who will intimate and scare others into giving them money. Many scammers pretend to be police officers, investigators or working for the tax office who will demand money from them. Other scams use a ‘robo-call’ pre-recorded message telling them they’ve broken the law and to hold the line to speak to an investigator.
And out of the 18,000 reports this year — up 40% from the previous year — Chinese-Australians and young Australians seem to be the most at risk.
Three-quarters of all losses came from scam calls targeted at Mandarin speakers, totalling $6.5 million in losses. Scammers impersonated authorities from the Chinese embassy, police or other government officials.
“Threat based scams disproportionately impact people with English as a second language, including foreign students, who may not fully understand Australian law,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
Likewise, more than $4.1 million was lost by people aged 24 and under, with three-quarters of the scam call losses coming from women.
“It is extremely concerning that young people are being so severely emotionally and financially impacted by threat based scams,” Rickard said.
“Victims will often provide personal information to scammers, as they believe they are dealing with a government agency, and this can lead to identity theft or falling victim to further scams.”
The ACCC advises that Australians who receive a call from someone purporting to be from a government agency, and caller’s legitimacy doesn’t seem right, they should hang up and call back via an independent online search.
If you’ve been subject to fraud or theft, you can call your local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Victims of identity theft should contact the government-funded IDCARE service via 1300 IDCARE or visit their website www.idcare.org.