Financial scams are getting worse, not better. It has to stop.
You know how passionate I am about the plague of financial scams conning ordinary Aussies today… and particularly those which illegally use my photo and fictitious comments from me to lure people into their scams.
All I can do is report these scams on Facebook, Taboola and LinkedIn to the authorities.
But this is how bad it’s getting…
In 2021, combined scam losses reported to Scamwatch, banks and other government agencies was $1.8 billion. Remember, one third of victims do not report scams, so actual losses were well over $2 billion.
In 2022, losses reported to Scamwatch have increased by around 100 per cent, suggesting we are looking at losses of around $4 billion this year.
The highest loss categories were investment scams ($267.2 million), dating and romance scams ($23.4 million) and remote access scams ($16.6 million). As you can see, finance and investment scams are the biggest by a long way.
I interviewed Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones during the week and he assured me that the Federal Government intends tightening the laws next year to make digital platforms financially liable for allowing scams to be advertised on their platforms (as is traditional media currently).
About time. It is nothing new, but it has to stop.
This is a Facebook post I wrote back in June 2019 and the warning hasn’t changed.
SCAM WARNING: ANY STORY OR ADVERTISEMENT CLAIMING THE KOCHS RECOMMEND BITCOIN AS AN INVESTMENT IS A SCAM
It is driving us crazy, the con artists using Libby and I as bait to lure people into investing in Bitcoin. Facebook are doing their best to take them down, but then they pop back up using different offshore servers.
Technology has connected us to family, friends and work associates like never before. Unfortunately it has connected us to scammers like never before as well. And their scams have never been more sophisticated, fleecing millions of dollars from unsuspecting Australians every month.
Email has become such a natural part of our life and communication that we’re lured into a false sense of security and can easily fall for a scam. It’s why we respond naturally to the supposed Netflix notice to unblock the account, PayPal wanting to confirm our bank details and the fake invoices from Telstra, Optus and energy companies. All scams but, dangerously, all so [seemingly] authentic and logical.
Now there are even robot phone calls supposedly from the Australian Tax Office claiming you haven’t lodged past tax returns and threatening to commence immediate legal action if you don’t call them back. What makes it heartbreaking for me is hearing from victims who have been conned by Facebook scammers illegally using my image to fleece average Australians from their hard earned money.
The 65-year-old who emailed me after losing $400 on an erectile dysfunction cure or the 30-year-old who lost $10,000 after investing in a Bitcoin fund which I was supposedly endorsing. I constantly report these scams to Facebook, but as soon as they are taken down the scams come back on a different server. They are digital cockroaches… nothing can kill them.
Just for the record, I don’t endorse anything except my book (Kochie’s 11 Step Money Plan… for a better life) and online financial literacy course (www.moneymakeover.com.au).
How to keep yourself safe from financial scams
So your scammer survival plan includes:
- Never, ever, give your password, bank details or tax file number to anyone online or over the phone. No legitimate company will ask for those details.
- Review your security and privacy details on social media and be careful with passwords. I understand we have to remember so many passwords these days, and it’s hard. So use a password keeper app on your smartphone or a password authenticator.
- Check for clues of authenticity of an email. Two alerts to look out for:
- The grammar and spelling are bad
- The email uses a general rather than a personal greeting
- Beware of unusual methods of payment. Some scammers like to ask for payment in cybercurrencies (like Bitcoin) or gift cards so they avoid financial authorities.
- Regularly check the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch website: www.scamwatch.gov.au.
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