Let’s Talk Scams Campaign: Financial scams cost Australians $114 m in 2021

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 8 November 2021: It’s not uncommon to receive emails asking one to send details or an unusual offer promising a handsome pay-out. It ends up with one being duped. People from non-English speaking communities are more vulnerable to these financial scams. Crime Stoppers Victoria has launched the ‘Let’s Talk Scams Campaign’ as part of its Scam Awareness Week ( 8-12 November 2021) to curb the menace.

Launched today in support of national Scams Awareness Week, the Let’s Talk Scams campaign is focused on preventing the public from falling victim to financial scams, also known as investment scams. These scams promise victims big payouts, fast money, or guaranteed returns only to dupe them of hard-earned cash.

According to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, financial scams have caused the most losses this year, so far costing Australians more than $114 million. Victorians have lost $30 million to financial scams — representing a quarter of all money lost nationwide. By the end of 2021, its predicted losses to financial scams Australia-wide will have more than doubled last year’s figure.

People aged over 65 are most likely to fall victim to financial scams. The Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese, and Sri Lankan communities have also been disproportionally affected with scammers preying on people for whom English is a second language.

Crime Stoppers Victoria Chief Executive Stella Smith said, “Scammers will target older people because they are less likely to tell anyone. That’s why talking with your parents and grandparents is an important step in scam prevention.

“We’re hearing stories of parents and grandparents who have lost thousands of dollars to scammers promising quick money, guaranteed returns, or big pay-outs with little or no risk.

“We don’t want people to feel embarrassed about being scammed. Talking about scams helps raise awareness among friends and family — it’s about shaming the scammer, not the victim.”

Ms. Smith said financial scams were often disguised within financial trends like cryptocurrency, celebrity endorsements and superannuation.

“Scammers will often use a variety of methods to target their victims, including unsolicited phone calls, text messages, emails and social media messages.”

To raise public awareness about financial scams and promote conversation around this issue Crime Stoppers Victoria has teamed up with Victoria Police and BankVic to produce a new podcast, Let’s Talk Scams.

The 40-minute episode offers listeners valuable scam prevention information from Detective Superintendent Jane Welsh of Victoria Police’s Cybercrime Division. Scott Wall, Chief Information Officer at BankVic is also featured.

Detective Superintendent Jane Welsh said scammers often promised incredible financial rewards in return for a small upfront investment.

“Victims will be told exciting tales of how they can make big bucks,” she said.

“But in reality, it’s all make-believe and once scammers have got what they want they move on to their next target.

“Worst still, some persist, drawing more and more money from the bank accounts of victims who continue to hope for a huge financial windfall.”

Detective Superintendent Welsh said Victoria Police was determined to track down scammers, even though a large proportion were based outside Australia.

“We understand that for the most part the offenders committing these crimes are offshore,” she said.

“This makes the investigation of these matters challenging.

“But the community can be assured Victoria Police is working very closely with our partners in law enforcement here in Australia and across the world to disrupt this type of offending and prosecute offenders where possible.”

Mr. Wall said it was vital potential investors did their own research and consider seeking professional advice before handing over any money.

“The idea that you can make a lot of money with very little risk seems extremely appealing.

“But people need to remember, if an investment opportunity or offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Ms. Smith said the podcast is a timely reminder for the community to engage in open discussions around financial scams.

“Anyone, at any age, can be targeted by scammers. Sharing personal stories can help remove negative stigma associated with being scammed.”

The public is urged to contact their bank immediately and make a report to Scamwatch at scamwatch.gov.au if they have been scammed or suspect they may have been targeted by scammers.

LISTEN TO PODCAST HERE

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