July 16, 2024

Australians who have lost money to previous scams are being urged to remain vigilant of offers to recover their finances for “an upfront fee”.

The National Anti-Scam Centre said scams that involve a “money recovery element” are on the rise with over 158 reports made to Scam Watch in the last six months alone.

Over $2.9 million in losses were reported between December 2023 and May 2024, which includes the original losses from the original scam.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warned people who have fallen to previous scams were more at risk as their personal information was usually kept or sold by criminals.

People aged 65 and older were the largest demographic to report being scammed and usually incurred higher losses, according to the ACCC.

Deputy chair Catriona Lowe said money recovery scams were damaging and cruel for victim’s who have already been exploited. 

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“Scammers pose as trusted parties such as government agencies, lawyers, or even charities,” Lowe said.

“We are also aware of criminals pretending to be a victim themselves and claiming that a specific person or entity helped them get their money back.

“We are very concerned about revictimisation which can compound both the financial and emotional harm caused by scams.

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“For example, we know of a person who was the target of multiple scams in succession. What began as a romance baiting investment scam was followed by a money recovery scam, which led to a remote access scam, and finally identity theft.”

Lowe said in other cases victims had unknowingly responded to fake advertisements set-up by criminals online.

“As part of our initial response, the National Anti-Scam Centre has referred two websites used in recovery scams for takedown action,” Lowe said.

“One has been successfully taken down already.”

The ACCC said in most cases once money is stolen it is unlikely to be recovered as funds are sent off-shore. 

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