Criminals target previous scam victims

New scams promise financial recovery – for a fee

Criminals target previous scam victims


By Mina Martin

The National Anti-Scam Centre warns Australians who have lost money to scammers to beware of new scams promising financial recovery for an upfront fee.

Reports involving recovery scams have surged, with Scamwatch receiving 158 reports totaling over $2.9 million in losses between December 2023 and May.

Despite a 129% increase in reports, financial losses decreased by 29% from $4.1m.

See LinkedIn post here.

Targeting the vulnerable

“Money recovery scams are damaging and cruel. Criminals prey on people who have already been victims of a scam who hope to get their money back,” ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe (pictured above) said.

Australians aged 65 and older reported the highest losses. Scammers often pose as trusted entities, including government agencies, lawyers, or even charities, to exploit victims further.

Rising scam threat

Scammers use various methods to contact victims, including email, phone calls, and social media. They promise to recover losses for an upfront fee or a percentage of the recovered funds, often requesting personal information or remote access to devices.

“We are very concerned about revictimisation, which can compound both the financial and emotional harm caused by scams,” Lowe said.

Proactive measures

In response, the National Anti-Scam Centre has taken down two websites involved in recovery scams.

Victims are advised not to engage with anyone promising to recover stolen money and to report scams to the police and their financial institutions.

Scams are crimes, and the criminals who prey on desperate people trying to recover in the aftermath are reprehensible,” Lowe said.

How recovery scam works

  • Contact: Scammers pose as trusted entities and contact victims via various channels.
  • Promise: They offer to recover losses for an upfront fee or a percentage of the recovered amount.
  • Information: Scammers ask for personal information or remote access to devices.
  • Deception: They provide fake recommendations or reviews to appear legitimate.

Protect yourself

To avoid falling victim to these scams, follow these steps:

  1. Stop: If contacted with an offer to recover money for a fee, it’s a scam.
  2. Check: Verify the identity of the contact by using independently sourced contact information.
  3. Protect: Do not give out personal or financial information or allow remote access to your devices.
  4. Report: Report scams to the police and your financial institution.

Background and advice

The National Anti-Scam Centre notes that only law enforcement can seize and recover assets.

The centre cautions against engaging with businesses offering recovery services, as these often come with high costs and unlikely results.

Anyone can be scammed, and that’s one of the reasons drawing attention to Scamwatch’s advice and resources is so important,” Lowe said.

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