By Jesse Gentle
Produced for online by Emily Halverson
Scammers are increasingly using social media and dating scams to target victims according to the latest Targeting Scams Report released for National Consumer Fraud Week.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is asking Australians who use social media to be wary of scammers increasingly using the platforms to contact and trick those online.
Cyber Safety Solutions’ Susan McLean says it can be hard to spot a scam.
“There is absolutely no way to spot a fake profile to start with because the people that set them up are very clever, they know what they need to put there and they know how to engage, often with a vulnerable person who is looking for love.”
The Targeting Scams Report says Australians have lost nearly $300 million to scams in 2016 alone.
Australians over 55 years of age accounted for 45 per cent of reports to Scamwatch.
Cyber Safety company ySafe director and registered psychologist Jordan Foster says it’s older people online who are commonly targeted.
“There’s a lot of research to show that there’s a correlation between age and susceptibility to scams,” she said.
“The scammers usually target people over a certain age because what they try and do is target certain vulnerabilities, so what you’ll find is one of the most common forms of scams of people over that age are romance scams or dating scams.”
She says scammers will use a number of tricks including asking for smaller amounts of money as they gradually build enough trust to ask for larger sums.
“It’s actually a psychological trick to get people to do small tasks, and what that actually does is when they complete those small tasks, it increases the likelihood that they’ll agree to a bigger one.”
ACCC’s Deputy Chair Delia Rickard says there are a number of tips that users can use to avoid being scammed online.
“First of all, don’t give away personal information to someone who contacts you out of the blue, never give access to your computer or your bank account details to someone who contacts you out of the blue and never send money to somebody who you’ve only met through social media or has contacted you when you weren’t expecting it.”
If you have any concerns about scams online, you can go to scamwatch.gov.au.