Most victims of scams can never recover their lost money, but by taking immediate action it’s possible to minimise the damage and avoid yet another danger – the follow-up scam. Despite public awareness of scams, the perpetrators’ methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated and many otherwise savvy people are falling victim.
It’s almost impossible for victims to get their money back because most of the fraudulent companies are international, placing them outside of Australian Government jurisdiction. However, the following steps may help to minimise the financial loss, and make it harder for these criminals.
- Contact your bank.
Do this as soon as you become aware of being scammed; quick action may be able to stop money transfers. At the least your bank will be able to close your account or cancel your card so that the scammers won’t have further access.
- Report the scam.
It’s very important to stop the scam from spreading by identifying the scammers and warning other potential victims. On the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) website Scamwatch there is an online form and phone number to report scams.
- Beware of follow-up scams.
Follow-up scams focus on people who have already been scam victims because the perpetrators see them as an easy target. Look out for the following clues:
- You receive an offer to swap your investment for another one in order to recover your losses.
- You receive an offer to buy your shares at a premium provided you pay a fee to have “restrictions” on the shares lifted.
- Someone offers you assistance to locate the person that originally scammed you but you must pay travel and accommodation costs.
- Anyone offering assistance in recovering your losses for a fee. Often they’ll explain this fee is a tax, deposit or a refundable insurance bond.
If you have become a victim of a scam and are subsequently contacted for these or any other reason you feel is suspicious, you should immediately cease any discussion with the person and report the call.
With so many scams in operation and growing on a daily basis, it pays to stay informed. The Scamwatch website is continually updated and is a good place to visit regularly. Improving education and awareness is the best way to beat this scourge and minimise the damage scammers can cause.
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