Scammers are targeting people in the Central West and across NSW with a range of tricks aimed at stealing your money.
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However NSW Police Fraud Squad Detective Senior Constable Shawn Schussler, who spoke at a Fraud Forum in Orange this week, said you can beat scammers by using common sense and introducing safeguards.
Senior Constable Schussler said many scams were operated by skilled international gangs.
Please tell me you didn’t send the money.- Detective Shawn Schussler, NSW Police Fraud Squad
“They are highly trained, this is not their first day,” he said.
He said they often targeted seniors, the lonely and gullible.
“They don’t see the elderly like we see the elderly, they see dollar signs,” he said.
He said it was hard to recover scammed funds, particularly if the money goes overseas.
“In the fraud squad the most common sentence said is ‘Please tell me you didn’t send the money.”
Senior Constable Schussler said people should ‘tap’ credit cards instead of entering pin numbers into card machines at shops as entering numbers leaves the information in the machine. He said thieves stole the machines and gained the stored information.
He said the best methods of paying online was to use PayPal, Gumtree and similar methods instead of using your credit card as these organisations spent a lot of money protecting their systems from online fraud.
Senior Constable Schussler said the sheaths that were sold to protect credit cards from scammers remotely stealing the card information were not full proof.
He said that when people were selling goods in person you should ask for bank cheques instead of personal cheques for the purchase.
But if they refused meet the buyer at a bank to make the transaction there.
Emails, business meetings and seminars offering get rich quick schemes generally are too good to be true.
Senior Constable Schussler said people have lost their entire life savings to these scams.
He said people should make online checks about the project being offered to them to invest in and seek professional advice before handing over any cash. Do not hand over cash at a seminar.
“If you can spare $50-60,000 on an investment scheme you can spare $600 to go to a solicitor to check it out,” he said.
“If a stranger knows a quick way to make money, would they really tell you?”
People continue to be contacted by emails announcing they have won millions in an overseas lottery but need to send money to cover the costs of getting their winnings sent to them.
He said the thought of being instantly rich made many people glaze over the reality of the situation.
“[Scammers] are sending hundreds of thousands of these emails a day, so they rely on a percentage of people who go ‘I’ll do that, I’ll send $1500’ and that’s how they make their money.”
“They rely on that one person because they see a $360 million win and go ‘I’ve only got to part with $1500 to release it.”
The easiest way to avoid being caught by this scheme is ask yourself if you bought a ticket in that lottery.
“If you didn’t buy a ticket you are not going to win.”
Senior Constable Schussler said people from overseas went door-to-door offering to do house repairs and gardening work.
He said they were known to make up to $200,000 in a short period and then flee overseas leaving upset residents with dodgy, incomplete and sometimes never-started work.
Senior Constable Schussler said you should never let them into your house, talk to them through your door and ask for official documents.
“If you want to get rid of them ask for their insurance papers. They’ll say ‘I’m just going to the car to get them’ and you will see them drive off.”
He said identity theft came in many forms including stealing people’s information from credit cards and stealing mail from letterboxes.
“Your personal information is like toothpaste. Once you squeeze it out you can’t get it back in again,” he said.
Senior Constable Schussler said people should get their bills sent by email rather than by statements in the post to eliminate the risk of mail being stolen.
He said people should put padlocks on their letterboxes and when they go holidays get their mail collected by a friend or have it held at the post office.
And shred your bank documents before throwing them away to stop them being found in rubbish.
Fake calls demanding people pay a tax debt or face arrest are commonplace. Many ask for payment in iTunes cards which the scammers later redeem for cash.
He urged people to be wary of calls starting with 1900 as they were commonly used by scammers.
“The ATO never cold call a debt. A letter is sent if payment is due,” he said. “The ATO will never ask you to pay a tax debt with iTunes cards.”
And he said the ATO did not have any powers of arrest, when real offences occurred they were dealt with by police. His best advice is, just hang up.
Senior Constable Schussler said people should be wary of any email they did not expect or one that had come from someone they did not know.
He said most fake emails had incorrect spelling and had email addresses that often had extra letters to the normal address. He urged people not to click on any link or attachment in them.
He said scammers scanned dating sites for victims who were sent emails or letters to kick start a romance that invariably led to them asking for money.
“They play on personal triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details,” he said.
Senior Constable Schussler said people needed to step back, ask advice from friends, ask questions of the supposed romancer and make online checks of their name.
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