Recurring scammers slammed by aged advocacy group

Thursday, 11 July, 2024

Recurring scammers slammed by aged advocacy group

Scammers who repeatedly target previous victims — often older people — have been condemned by National Seniors Australia (NSA).

According to information released by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), scam reports that involve a money recovery element are on the rise. Between December 2023 and May 2024, Scamwatch received 158 reports with total losses of over $2.9 million, including losses from the original scam.

The number of reports increased by 129% when compared to the six months prior; however, financial losses decreased by 29% from $4.1 million.

NSA Chief Executive Officer Chris Grice said it is concerning to see Australians aged 65 and older were the largest reporting group and suffered the highest average losses, and reiterated calls for older people to be suspicious of offers to recover funds for an upfront fee.

“These are not just numbers — these are real and often vulnerable people with retirement funds, life savings and legacies intended for family and charities. To scam someone once is bad enough, to scam that same person again as they attempt to recover their financial loss is simply deplorable — it’s the lowest of the low,” he said.

“Most services, communications and transactions are now online. For many older people, being online and navigating the internet is still new and fraught with fear, and rightly so.

“Scams are getting more sophisticated and harder to identify. Investment, education and training are critical to help give older Australians skills and confidence to safely use online services.”

In May, NSA welcomed the government’s $42 million investment to extend the Digital Literacy for Older Australians program — Be Connected — until June 2028. NSA continues to promote the Australian Federal Police’s cyber ABC safety videos to help everyone be confident and safe online.

“It is disappointing but not surprising to hear older people are targeted. We encourage anyone who is online, especially seniors, to follow the advice of the National Anti-Scam Centre and to help protect against scams by: saying no, deleting and blocking attempts of contact; verifying who you’re speaking with; and protecting your personal information.

“If you have been scammed, immediately call your bank, and report your experience to the National Anti-Scam Centre. You can also call IDCARE for support on 1800 595 160.”

Image credit: Vesalainen

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