PROMINENT SCAMS 2021 , BE AT ALERT!

>Nigerian scams

Nigerian scams involve someone overseas offering you a share in a large sum of money or a payment on the condition you help them to transfer money out of their country. While these scams originated in Nigeria, they now come from all over the world.

  1. How this scam works
  2. Warning signs
  3. Protect yourself

How this scam works

The scammer will contact you out of the blue by email, letter, text message or through social media.

The scammer will tell you an elaborate story about large amounts of their money trapped in banks during events such as civil wars or coups, often in countries currently in the news. Or they may tell you about a large inheritance that is ‘difficult to access’ because of government restrictions or taxes in their country. The scammer will then offer you a large sum of money to help them transfer their personal fortune out of the country.

These scams are often known as ‘Nigerian 419’ scams because the first wave of them came from Nigeria. The ‘419’ part of the name comes from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which outlaws the practice. These scams now come from anywhere in the world.

Scammers may ask for your bank account details to ‘help them transfer the money’ and use this information to later steal your funds.

Or they may ask you to pay fees, charges or taxes to ‘help release or transfer the money out of the country’ through your bank. These fees may even start out as quite small amounts. If paid, the scammer may make up new fees that require payment before you can receive your reward. They will keep asking for more money as long as you are willing to part with it.

You will never be sent the money that was promised.

Warning signs

  • You receive a contact out of the blue asking you to ‘help’ someone from another country transfer money out of their country (e.g.  Nigeria, Sierra Leone or Iraq).
  • The request includes a long and often sad story about why the money cannot be transferred by the owner. This typically involves some type of conflict or inheritance and they may want to move the money straight into your account.
  • You are offered a financial reward, such as a share in the amount, for helping them access their ‘trapped’ funds. The amount of money to be transferred, and the payment that the scammer promises to you if you help, is usually very large.
  • They will claim that a bank, lawyer, government agency or other organisation requires some fees to be paid before the money can be moved. The scammer will often ask you to make payments for the fee via a money transfer service.

Protect yourself

  • Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
  • Do not agree to transfer money for someone else. Money laundering is a criminal offence.
  • Seek independent advice from someone you know and trust if in doubt.
  • If someone is claiming to be from a particular organisation verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organisation directly – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
  • Do an internet search using the names, contact details or exact wording of the letter/email to check for  any references to a scam – many scams can be identified this way.
  • If you think it’s a scam, don’t respond — scammers will use a personal touch to play on your emotions to get what they want.
  • Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

>Unexpected prize & lottery scams

Unexpected prize and lottery scams work by asking you to pay some sort of fee in order to claim your prize or winnings from a competition or lottery you never entered.

  1. How this scam works
  2. Warning signs
  3. Protect yourself

How this scam works

You will receive notification that you have won a lot of money or a fantastic prize in a competition, lottery or sweepstake that you don’t remember entering.  The contact may come by mail, telephone, email, text message or social media.

The prize you have ‘won’ could be anything from a tropical holiday to electronic equipment such as a laptop or a smartphone, or even money from an international lottery.

To claim your prize, you will be asked to pay a fee. Scammers will often say these fees are for insurance costs, government taxes, bank fees or courier charges. The scammers make money by continually collecting these fees from you and stalling the payment of your winnings.

The email, letter or text message you receive will ask you to respond quickly or risk missing out. It may also urge you to keep your winnings private or confidential, to ‘maintain security’ or stop other people from getting your prize by mistake. Scammers do this to prevent you from seeking further information or advice from independent sources.

Lottery scams may use the names of legitimate overseas lotteries (often Spanish lotteries), so that if you do some superficial research, the scam will seem real. Some examples of the real Spanish lotteries that the scammers falsely use are Loteria Primitiva and El Gordo.

Real examples of lottery scams:

You may also be asked to provide personal details to prove that you are the correct winner and to give your bank account details so the prize can be sent to you. Scammers use these details to try to misuse your identity and steal any money you have in your bank account.

Sometimes the scammers actually do send a cheque for part of your winnings, such as a few thousand dollars of winnings, to trick you into thinking the offer is legitimate. However this cheque will eventually bounce and you will not receive any real payments.

The scammer will take your payment and fail to deliver the prize, or send you something that falls short of the promised prize.

A newer version of unexpected prize scams involves scammers gaining access to someone’s social media account and contacting extended family members (aunts, cousins etc) and telling them that they have all won money. The scammer then provides an email address through which they will receive instructions on how to claim their prize.  This is a particularly insidious version of the scam as it uses the trust between family members to succeed in scamming people out of their money.

Real life story

The holiday prize which nearly cost Nicole thousands of dollars

Warning signs

  • You receive a letter, email or text message saying you have won a guaranteed prize in a lottery or competition that you did not enter. This may come from even trusted individuals like family over social media.
  • The sender claims you are a winner from your email address or social media account being chosen at random. They may say the offer is ‘legal’ or ‘legitimate’, and has ‘government approval’.
  • The unexpected prize might be linked to a company which doesn’t normally run such competitions such as electronics or social media companies.
  • To claim your prize you are asked to buy a ticket, or pay a fee or tax.
  • You may be asked to provide your bank account details, or to send the fee to a PO box number or via a money transfer service.

Protect yourself

  • If you haven’t entered a lottery or competition, you can’t win it.
  • If someone asks you to pay money up-front in order to receive a prize or winnings, it’s almost always a scam. Legitimate lotteries do not require you to pay a fee to collect winnings.
  • Be careful of phone numbers beginning with 190. These are charged at a premium rate (sometimes even for receiving a message) and can be very expensive.
  • Verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organisation directly – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
  • Do an internet search on any of the details of the competition – many scams can be identified this way.
  • Never send money or give credit card, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • Avoid anything that requests payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way.

>Inheritance scams

These scams offer you the false promise of an inheritance to trick you into parting with your money or sharing your bank or credit card details.

  1. How this scam works
  2. Warning signs
  3. Protect yourself

How this scam works

A scammer may contact you out of the blue to tell you that you can claim a large inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy benefactor. You may be contacted by letter, phone call, text message, email or social networking message.

The scammer usually poses as a lawyer, banker or other foreign official, and claims that the deceased left no other beneficiaries.

Sometimes the scammer will say you are legally entitled to claim the inheritance. Alternatively, they might say that an unrelated wealthy person has died without a will, and that you can inherit their fortune through some legal trickery because you share the same last name.

You will be told that your supposed inheritance is difficult to access due to government regulations, taxes or bank restrictions in the country where the money is held, and that you will need to pay money and provide personal details to claim it.

See:  Typical inheritance scam letter ( PDF 108.12 KB ) .

Scammers will go to great lengths to convince you that a fortune awaits if you follow their instructions. They may even send you a large number of seemingly legitimate legal documents to sign, such as power of attorney documents. In some cases you may be invited overseas to examine documents and the money.

You may be introduced to a second or even third scammer – posing as a banker, lawyer or tax agent – to ‘help facilitate the legal and financial aspects of the transaction’.

If you make a payment, you won’t receive the sum of ‘inheritance’ money promised to you, and you won’t get your money back.

As part of their story to prove your relationship, these scammers often also seek personal information such as identification or birth certificates. If you provide this information you may also leave yourself open to identity theft.

Warning signs

  • You are contacted out of the blue by a scammer posing as a lawyer or banker and offering you a large inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy individual. They may even ask you to pose as the next of kin to an unclaimed inheritance.
  • The offer looks convincing and may use official-looking letterhead and logos, but will usually contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
  • The size of the supposed inheritance may be very large, sometimes many millions of dollars.
  • You are provided with fake bank statements, birth certificates and other documents if you question the legitimacy.
  • You are asked to provide your bank account details, copies of identity documents as verification, and to pay a series of fees, charges or taxes to help release or transfer the money out of the country through your bank.
  • Fees may initially be for small amounts but you will be asked to make further larger payments.
  • The scammer offers to meet you in person to verify the proposal, but this rarely eventuates.

Protect yourself

  • Never send money or give credit card, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
  • Seek advice from an independent professional such as a lawyer, accountant or financial planner if in doubt.
  • Do an internet search using the names, contact details or exact wording of the letter/email to check for  any references to a scam – many scams can be identified this way.
  • If you think it’s a scam, don’t respond — scammers will use a personal touch to play on your emotions to get what they want.
  • Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Scams target everyone

Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across Australia. There’s no one group of people who are more likely to become a victim of a scam, all of us may be vulnerable to a scam at some time.

Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it. Scammers are getting smarter and taking advantage of new technology, new products or services and major events to create believable stories that will convince you to give them your money or personal details. 

Protect yourself

Be alert to the fact that scams exist. When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether it’s over the phone, by mail, email, in person or on a social networking site, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Know who you’re dealing with. If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a business, take some time to do a bit more research. Do a Google image search on photos or search the internet for others who may have had dealings with them. If a message or email comes from a friend and it seems unusual or out of character for them, contact your friend directly to check that it was really them that sent it.

Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails – delete them: If unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Don’t use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.

Don’t respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access – hang up – even if they mention a well-known company such as Telstra. Scammers will often ask you to turn on your computer to fix a problem or install a free upgrade, which is actually a virus which will give them your passwords and personal details.

Keep your personal details secure. Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.

Keep your mobile devices and computers secure. Always use password protection, don’t share access with others (including remotely), update security software and back up content. Protect your WiFi network with a password and avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information.

Choose your passwords carefully. Choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess and update them regularly. A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account/profile, and don’t share your passwords with anyone.

Review your privacy and security settings on social media. If you use social networking sites, such as Facebook, be careful who you connect with and learn how to use your privacy and security settings to ensure you stay safe.  If you recognise suspicious behaviour, clicked on spam or have been scammed online, take steps to secure your account and be sure to report it.

Beware of any requests for your details or money. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence.

Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin.

Be careful when shopping online. Beware of offers that seem too good to be true, and always use an online shopping service that you know and trust. Think twice before using virtual currencies (like Bitcoin) – they do not have the same protections as other transaction methods, which means you can’t get your money back once you send it. Learn more about online shopping scams.

Source: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/

Have you been scammed, defrauded or seek to report any fraud activities, do well to contact us today @Global Fraud Forensics Consultants Limited.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of FraudXpose or any employee thereof.

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