February 8, 2023

Financial scams have become more sophisticated and easier to perpetrate, ballooning into a billion-dollar industry in Australia, experts have warned.

Last year more than 239,000 scams worth $570m were reported to Scamwatch, but the organisation says the real number is much higher, as only about 13% of scams are reported.

Investment scams remain the number one risk for Australians, but there has been an increase in phoney text messages, such as the “hi mum” scam, in which fraudsters send a text message pretending to be a family member.

Some recent examples have been highly sophisticated, with scammers calling from numbers that appear to be based in Australia and pretending to be from either the victim’s bank or a company such as Amazon, stating their account has been compromised and asking for personal data.

Dan Halpin, the chief executive of Cybertrace, a company that specialises in cyber fraud investigation, said scams were becoming highly sophisticated.

“We have noticed an obvious change in the level of sophistication and victim manipulation over the past two years,” Halpin said. “As with any crime method, the longer it is used, the more refined it becomes.”

Halpin said fake cryptocurrency or forex broker websites were still the most common scam, but there was an increasing trend in online job/hotel booking assistant scams.

“Like the ‘hi mum’ scams, the online job/hotel booking assistant scams are often conducted via WhatsApp and other similar messaging…

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