Subiaco jeweller’s name used by criminals in ‘help me’ scam

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Scammers are using the name of a Subiaco jeweller to persuade their victims to urgently send money in a new variation to the ‘help me’ scam.

Recent reports received by WA Scamnet at Consumer Protection suggest that people are receiving phone calls from scammers saying that a relative or friend has purchased jewellery at the Smales jewellery store but their credit card transaction had been declined.

The scammers claim that the relative or friend is being held either by store staff or by police and they won’t be released until the payment is made. In some cases, the scammers encourage their targets to either call the police or their bank to verify the story, but they don’t disconnect the call. After dialling, victims believe they are talking to the police or their bank but are actually still talking to another scammer who confirms the story is real.

Previously, ‘help me’ scams involved victims getting calls, emails or social media messages from criminals purporting to be officials saying a relative or friend who is travelling overseas has been arrested, involved in an accident or other scenarios where urgent financial assistance is needed.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said one loss reported recently is substantial, triggering this warning from Consumer Protection.

“The scammers are using emotional blackmail and creating an urgent situation where money needs to be sent to have a friend or relative released from custody or to receive treatment for an injury,” Mr Hillyard said.

“If you receive an urgent request for money supposedly from a family member, friend or colleague; be sceptical and try to contact them or someone close to them by phone to verify the story before sending any money.

“If making contact electronically, do not respond directly to the request email or Facebook message as this could go back to the scammers.

“People should also be aware of the latest tactic where the scammers ask you to make a confirmation call, but they remain on the line. Make sure the original call has been disconnected and you receive a dial tone before calling again. Don’t use any numbers given to you by the scammers; get the numbers independently from the white pages or an internet search.”

Information and advice regarding scams can be found at www.scamnet.wa.gov.au. Reports of scams can be lodged with Consumer Protection by email wascamnet@commerce.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.

END OF RELEASE

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
24 Apr 2017

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