Beware of ‘catch the scammer’ scams

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All announcements issued prior to 1 July 2017 were issued by the former Department of Commerce. Announcements listed here are the latest versions available, but may be subject to review. For more information on this announcement, please contact online@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

This announcement is for: 
Consumer

If you get a call from someone saying they are an officer at the Randwick Police Station and they want your help to catch a scammer, hang up – it’s a scam!

Numerous reports have been received recently by Consumer Protection where scammers pretend to be police and tell their targets that their bank accounts or credit cards have been compromised. The pretend police officer then asks the target for help in catching the criminals by withdrawing and sending money to the offenders who will be arrested when they collect the money.

In the past 12 months, 18 victims in WA have reported losing a total of more than $300,000 to this new type of scam.

In one case, an 81 year old Woodvale man put $50,000 in cash in two shoeboxes and sent them to an address in the United Kingdom. When the man’s family found out, they contacted the real Police who managed to have the delivery of the parcel stopped and the money returned to sender.

Acting Commissioner of Consumer Protection David Hillyard said there have been a few variations of this latest tactic being used by scammers.

“Apart from claiming to be police, the scammers also pretend to be from an internet provider, but on each occasion they tell their targets that their computer has been hacked and their bank accounts may be at risk,” Mr Hillyard said.

“They then create this elaborate fake sting operation where the target has to send money, usually by wire transfer, in order to help catch the crooks. Of course, it’s totally fake and the targets of this scam will only lose their money.

“If you get any calls of this nature, hang up and don’t comply with their instructions and certainly don’t send any money.”

Last year an 81 year old Gosnells woman lost $22,000 when scammers pretending to be from Telstra said her computer had been hacked and they wanted her help in catching the hackers. They asked her to make multiple payments to India with the promise that the money would be reimbursed and she would receive a new mobile phone for free in return for her assistance.

She was about to send a further $4,500 when her bank queried the withdrawals and made her aware that she may be a victim of a scam.

“We commend the bank for querying any unusual withdrawals by their customers which, in this case, prevented a senior member of our community from losing even more money,” the acting Commissioner said.

More information on scams is available at www.scamnet.wa.gov.au and reports can be sent to wascamnet@commerce.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.

END OF RELEASE

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
08 Feb 2017

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