AUSTRALIANS have lost more than $114 million in financial scams in 2021 alone.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions's scam-reporting service, Scamwatch, has predicted this number will be double the amount of last year.
This year Victorians alone have lost $30 million to financial scams - representing a quarter of all money lost nationwide.
Bendigo Criminal Investigation Unit detective acting sergeant Andrew Heazlewood said scams were a common occurrence in central Victoria.
"Scams are staying steady, if not it's slowly increasing because it is highly profitable," he said.
"Because the offenders are not in the state or in the country, then it's really hard to stop them."
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Detective acting sergeant Andrew Heazlewood said if people believe they are becoming a victim of a scam, they should just hang up the phone.
"People can always hang up the phone and contact police to get advice if needed," he said.
"People should generally be pessimistic rather than optimistic when they are selling or buying something online.
"If a seller or a buyer online asks you to go to a private messaging app, people should be wary and they should try and keep it on the original platform if they can."
If there is a sense of urgency and the sense that it needs to be done quickly over the phone, the chances are that it is a scam.Bendigo Criminal Investigation Unit detective acting sergeant Andrew Heazlewood
A new Crime Stoppers Victoria campaign, in support of national Scams Awareness Week was launched this week.
The Let's Talk Scams campaign focuses on preventing the public from falling victim to financial scams, also known as investment scams.
These scams promise victims big payouts, fast money or guaranteed returns only to dupe them of hard-earned cash.
People aged over 65 are most likely to fall victim to financial scams.
The Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese, and Sri Lankan communities have also been disproportionally affected with scammers preying on people for whom English is a second language.
Crime Stoppers Victoria Chief Executive Stella Smith said scammers will target older people because they are less likely to tell anyone.
She said however all people can be subjected to an online scam.
"We're hearing stories of parents and grandparents who have lost thousands of dollars to scammers promising quick money, guaranteed returns, or big pay-outs with little or no risk," she said.
We don't want people to feel embarrassed about being scammed.Stella Smith
"Talking about scams helps raise awareness among friends and family - it's about shaming the scammer, not the victim."
Requests for money transfers, phishing and fake missed call or text messages are among the top five scams targeting Victorians, according to data revealed by Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Promises of large sums of money, in return for an upfront payment, topped the list with 660 reports in 2020-21, compared to just 330 in the previous financial year.
Consumer Affairs Victoria received more than 2000 reports of scams during 2020-21, with the top five being:
- Money transfer scams (the promise of a cash refund for a fee) - 660 reports
- Phishing (stealing personal details via email, text, or voicemail) - 567 reports
- Mixed call and text message scams - 315 reports
- Investment and financial scams - 182 reports
- Fake tradies - 105 reports
Ms Smith said financial scams were often disguised within financial trends like cryptocurrency, celebrity endorsements and superannuation.
"Scammers will often use a variety of methods to target their victims, including unsolicited phone calls, text messages, emails and social media messages."
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, you can report it here.
You can learn more about Cybercrime here.
Further information about scams and how to protect yourself can be found here.
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