Fraud awareness

Fraud happens. Sadly, it can happen to the most innocent of people. Don't let it happen to you. We've listed a few common fraud scenarios below so you can stay apprised of common industry scams.

Common Fraud Scenarios

Covid-19 Scams

Did an stranger contact you claiming to be affected by the Coronavirus disease and request that you assist him/her by sending money through Ria? If you do, and you have not met this individual in person, it is very likely a scam that is emerging globally. In some instances, the scammer may pretend to be affiliated with an organization and they may claim that by sending funds directly to them you can avoid the overheads of the large organization. Some even go as far as pretending to have a mutual connection with you by claiming to know someone they have identified as your acquaintance through social media. It is important for you to stop and check if this is a genuine request even when you may think it may be a trusted individual.

Did AUSTRAC contact me?

Watch out for scams involving phone calls or emails from people pretending to be AUSTRAC staff. They usually demand payment or personal information and sometimes threaten imprisonment. Emails can feature the AUSTRAC logo in an attempt to appear legitimate.

Signs of a scam

There are certain things AUSTRAC will never do. You should be suspicious of a call or email that:

  • asks you to pay a fee or tax to authorise release of funds to your bank account
  • asks you for documentation regarding imported goods
  • tells you we have intercepted your package at the border
  • tells you that you’ve won a lottery
  • threatens you with arrest if you don’t pay a penalty
  • asks you to pay penalty fees by money transfer
  • tells you we are freezing accounts or transactions
  • says you can avoid prosecution by paying penalties.

If the phone call or email does any of these things, you can be sure it hasn’t come from us

If you want to check whether a call is legitimate, contact AUSTRAC on https://www.austrac.gov.au.

What to do if you receive a scam call or letter

If you receive a scam call or email, don’t engage with the scammer.

Do not:

  • phone them back
  • reply to the email
  • click any links
  • download any files.

Report it

  • Report the incident to Scamwatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) https://www.scamwatch.gov.au or calling a police station on 131 444.
  • For online or email scams, contact the Australian Cyber Security Centre on https://www.cyber.gov.au/report
  • Contact AUSTRAC on https://www.austrac.gov.au
  • Online Dating and Romance Scams

    You met a beautiful and smart woman. You've never met her in person — but you've been talking to her for months, maybe even spoken on the phone. Sometime soon you'll get to meet, but right now she's on the other side of the world. Then she's got an emergency and needs some funds. Not a lot, just a couple hundred dollars. Can you do that? And then the next week, someone got sick. You don't mind covering that too, right? But she is not actually the woman you thought. She's been deceiving you. She's built your trust, and now she's ready to take all your money.

    Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.

    Lottery, Sweepstakes and Unexpected Winnings Scams

    You got amazing news in your email today, you've won the lottery! The grand prize is enormous, and you have already begun dreaming of what you might do with that money. You're not quite sure that you remember playing the lottery, but oh well, you've already forgotten what you had for breakfast; it would be easy to forget such a thing. There's only one catch, the sender needs some funds from you in order to cash out your prize. Just a small amount and what's $1,000 when you're about to get millions?

    Don't be lured by a surprise win. These scams try to trick you into giving money upfront or your personal information in order to receive a prize from a lottery or competition that you never entered.

    The Relative in Need Scam

    Your grandchild is traveling in Thailand and has suddenly run out of money. She sends you an urgent email or phone call saying she has an emergency and asks for money. You don't remember her telling you she was going to travel to Thailand, but you're worried about her safety and want to ensure she's okay. So, you send her a couple hundred dollars. What's a couple hundred dollars when it comes to your grandchild's safety?

    Scammers use all kinds of sneaky approaches to steal your personal details. Once obtained, they can use your identity to commit fraudulent activities such as using your credit card or opening a bank account.

    The Mystery Shopper or Unexpected Money Scam

    Lucky you! You just landed a new gig as a mystery shopper and have been assigned your first task. All you need to do evaluate the customer service of a local retail store. Sounds easy enough, right? There is just one catch. You were sent a check or money order with instructions to deposit it, yet you find out the amount is more than it should be. So, now you need to send money back to the sender. Sounds a little fishy, but you don't think too much of it. Yet, as soon as you send your transaction, you learn that the original check was counterfeit and now you can't get back the money you just sent. So now you're out for both amounts.

    Scammers invent convincing and seemingly legitimate reasons to give you false hope about offers of money. There are no get-rich-quick schemes, so always think twice before handing over your details or dollars.

    The Vehicle Purchase Scam

    Your fervent internet search for a great deal on your dream car has paid off! You found the car you want at a much lower price than what your local dealership is willing to offer. You contact the seller, he/she tells you to send either a down payment and/or the service fees for the application loan through a money transfer. He/she may even send you a receipt. Do not send a down payment or service fees via a money transfer. You won’t get your dream vehicle and you won’t get your money back.

    Scammers prey on consumers and businesses that are buying or selling products and services. Not every transaction is legitimate.

    The Internet Purchase Scam

    You’ve found a terrific price on an apartment rental online and decide to move forward with signing the lease. Only the leasee is actually a scammer who asks you to pay for the first month with a money transfer and that too-good-to-be-true apartment doesn’t actually exist. Be wary when shopping online and someone asks you to pay with a money transfer or even send a deposit to an individual or business. This can happen with any online purchases – a puppy, a vacation rental, a timeshare or a car. You name it. Do not wire money for internet purchase. You won’t get the merchandise and you won’t get your money back.

    If you are looking for a fast way to make money, watch out – scammers have invented all sorts of fake money-making opportunities to prey on your enthusiasm and get hold of your cash.

    The Newspaper Ads Scam

    It’s Sunday morning, you’ve just poured yourself a fresh cup of coffee and are ready to sit down to breakfast, newspaper in hand. Turning to the classifieds, you notice an ad for a new, stainless steel refrigerator for a price that seems too good to be true. You think about how you’ve needed a new refrigerator for some time and decide to take the plunge. You purchase it. Sure, you’re a little sceptical because you’re buying it from a stranger and even stranger yet – they’ve asked you to transfer money to them for the purchase. Never use a money transfer to purchase something from a stranger. You may never get the item and you’ll lose your money.

    If you are looking for a fast way to make money, watch out – scammers have invented all sorts of fake money-making opportunities to prey on your enthusiasm and get hold of your cash.

    Charity Scam

    A recent natural disaster has left an entire nation reeling to rebuild in the aftermath of destruction, and you want to do your part to help by donating money. Sadly enough, natural disasters such as floods, tornados or hurricanes often result in scammers staging "charitable" organizations that prey on well-intentioned people. Your heart goes out to these people who have just lost everything. You receive a call, or a letter, from a charitable organization telling you exactly where to transfer money. Be sure to never send money to people or organizations that you don't know. Instead, contact the American Red Cross or another trusted organization that you know and that you understand how the funds are being collected and used. Chances are, if you transfer money to an organization you don't know, your money will not go to the intended cause but rather into the pockets of scammers.

    Scammers impersonate genuine charities and ask for donations or contact you claiming to collect money after natural disasters or major events.

    The Cheque or Money Order Scam using Jobs & employment scams

    You receive a check or money order through the mail as an advanced payment for that awesome job you’ve just landed – or for the merchandise you’re selling through an online ad. The only catcher is that the amount of the check is more than it should be, so the scammer tells you to deposit the check and then wire the amount they’ve “overpaid” back to them. Before you know it, you realize that the check or money order is counterfeit and – worse yet – you can’t get back the money you sent through the money transfer.

    Jobs and employment scams trick you into handing over your money by offering you a ‘guaranteed’ way to make fast money or a high-paying job for little effort.

    The Elder Abuse Scam

    While this scam can take on many shapes, it’s critical to know that nearly a third of all telemarketing fraud victims are age 60 or older. Be careful about sending money to a stranger in exchange for the promise of such things as home improvement, predatory lending, estate planning or even just a large sum of money to build your “nest egg.” Don’t ever let a stranger manage your finances and assets. Scammers will try hard to manipulate you into turning over property and/or money, which can leave your checking account or entire life savings wiped out within minutes. Never trust your money to someone you don’t know.

    To spot financial abuse, look for sudden changes in the older person’s financial situation, such as:

    • Suspicious changes in wills or powers of attorney – Out of the blue, your grandfather wills all of his belongings to his new nurse.
    • Financial activity the person couldn’t have done herself – You discover repeated ATM withdrawals from your bedridden mother’s bank account.
    • Bills not being paid – When visiting a neighbour, you see mail piling up on his desk. Maybe his caregiver is using his money for something other than paying bills.
    • Significant withdrawals or unusual purchases – You notice charges for fancy electronics on your thrifty aunt’s credit card bill.

    The Guaranteed Loan

    Are you sending money because you were "guaranteed" a credit or loan? If so, be cautious! It is highly unlikely that you would ever need to send money in order to receive a true credit or loan.

    Scammers invent convincing and seemingly legitimate reasons to give you false hope about offers of money. There are no get-rich-quick schemes, so always think twice before handing over your details or dollars.

    Money Transfer Scams

    Money transfer scams take on many shapes and forms. What's worse, fraudsters are continuously learning new tricks and techniques. It can be very difficult to know when a specific situation is in fact a scam. That's why it's very important to stay one step ahead of tricky scammers.

    Mobile payment apps can be a convenient way to send and receive money with your smartphone. These apps have become very popular — and scammers may try to use them to steal your money.

    Identity Theft

    Identity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act. Criminals can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources. Including by stealing your wallet, rifling through your trash, or by compromising your credit or bank information. They may approach you in person, by telephone, or on the Internet and ask you for the information.

    Callers claiming to be from Medicare are asking people for their Medicare numbers, Centrelink customer numbers, and other personal information.

    Telemarketing Scam

    You receive a phone call from an unknown caller and are somewhat sceptical to answer. At the last minute, you decide to pick up the phone and to your astonishment – you have won a free cruise. What luck! All you need to do to receive the cruise is pay for postage and handling to receive the "formal" offer. Sounds easy enough. The convincing voice on the other end has now conned you into giving them your financial information to pay for the postage. When you transfer money to people you do not know or give personal/financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud.

    Here are some tips on avoiding telemarketing fraud.

    Be aware that your personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties. If you have been victimized once, be wary of persons who call offering to help you recover your losses for a fee paid in advance.

    Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information.

    Protect Yourself

    Where to get help if you get scammed.

    If you are the victim of a money transfer scam, first report the incident to your local police. Next, file a report with the various resources listed below.

    Report Fraud

    If you've been the victim of fraud, you need to report it. Here is a list of useful resources to aid you in reporting fraud.

    1). Call the police

    Start with your local police. All money transfer scams should be reported to the police.

    2). Contact Ria's Compliance department

    We want to know about it so that we can do everything in our power to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    Contact us by phone to 1800 531 581 or by email at  compliance-au@riafinancial.com

    3). Scamwatch

    If you were a victim of fraud that began with contact through the internet, you should file a report with the ACCC. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au

    4). Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

    If you were a victim of fraud that began with contact through the internet, you should file a report with the ACCC. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au

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