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Don’t be fooled by the official-looking seal, signature and logos; if you look carefully, the production of this letter isn’t as professional as it might initially seem.
Claims of money waiting in an insured bank account with a bond policy are also a complete fabrication.
Sextortion, an emerging scam, also uses social media to gain access to victims.
A woman in her 50s, known by the pseudonym Jillian, was contacted by a scammer via Facebook Messenger last year."I'd come out of a long-term relationship, and I was vulnerable," she told the ABC."I'd been swimming and I came out of the pool and there was a message on Messenger, and I was very curious."I hit on it and it was this chappy and he said he was a colonel in the American Army and he was widowed."Initially it sounded quite genuine." She said she felt "buoyed" when she kept messaging with him over the course of a week.
"I kept receiving messages, but when I asked him a question — I didn't suss it straight away — but I then realised he was never actually answering my questions," Jillian said.
Ms Rickard said the majority of reports to Scamwatch about scams via social media were taking place on Facebook."The ACCC is working with Facebook, as well as the major banks, Money Gram, Paypal, Western Union and Apple to better tackle scams and reduce the harm experienced by consumers," Ms Rickard said.
A spokesperson for Facebook said that security was built into every Facebook product and design."Our security systems run in the background millions of times per second to help catch threats and remove them before they ever reach users," the spokesperson said in a statement."Staying ahead of those who try to misuse our service is a constant effort, and we work constantly to detect and block harmful activity, including removing accounts."The spokesperson said the social media giant had obtained nearly $2 billion in legal judgments against spammers, and provided a high-level briefing for the ACCC about its work on scam detection and disruption.
As for the 5% you’ll have to pay back to the ‘claims agent’ who entered you into the draw, we suspect that’s the line that’ll be used to extort money from you later down the line.
The pay-slip type form and passport-style booklet accompanying this mail-out do look more convincing than the letter itself.
Almost 25,000 people complained about phishing emails last year — the most of any category — but only 194 people reported losing money.
Last year also saw an increase in requests for payment via i Tunes or gift cards and the rise of threat-based scams where perpetrators impersonate government agencies to scare victims into parting with their money.
She ultimately avoided being scammed after a friend who worked in IT raised alarm bells when she told him about the messages."I handed over my phone rather reluctantly, and he said it had all been copied and pasted, and I felt a little indignant.
She ultimately deleted the messages and reported the name of the scammer to the ACCC-run site Scamwatch.
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