Ten most common types of scams

Find out about the 10 most common types of scam in the Northern Territory.

1. Advance fee fraud

A scammer requests fees upfront or personal information in return for goods, services, money or rewards that they never supply.

Scammers invent convincing and seemingly genuine reasons for requesting payment, such as to cover fees or taxes. 

They often ask for payment by international wire transfer.

These scams are commonly mass-marketed with scammers sending them out to thousands of people all over the world at the same time, usually by mail or email.

2. Lottery, sweepstakes and competition scams

An email, letter or text message from an overseas lottery or sweepstakes company arrives from out of nowhere.

It says you have won a lot of money or fantastic prizes in a lottery or sweepstakes competition you did not enter.

These scams try to trick you into giving money upfront or your personal details in order to receive the prize.

Scammers typically claim that you need to pay fees or taxes before your winnings or prize can be released. 

You may also have to call or text a premium rate phone number to claim your prize. 

Remember you cannot win a prize if you haven’t entered.

3. Dating and romance scams

Scammers create fake profiles on legitimate dating websites. 

They use these profiles to try to enter into a relationship with you so they can get a hold of your money and personal details.

The scammer will develop a strong rapport with you then ask for money to help cover costs associated with illness, injury, travel or a family crisis.

Scammers seek to exploit your emotions by pulling on your heart strings. Sometimes the scammers will take months and months to build up the rapport.

4. Computer hacking

Phishing emails are commonly used by scammers to trick you into giving them access to your computer. 

They ‘fish’ for your personal details by encouraging you to click on a link or attachment. 

If you click, malicious software will be installed and the hacker will have access to files and information stored on your computer.

A phishing email often appears to come from an organisation that you know and trust, like a bank or financial institution, asking you to enter your account password on a fake copy of the site’s login page. 

If you provide your account details, the scammer can hack into your account and take control of your profile.

5. Online shopping, classified and auction scams

Scammers like shopping online for victims. Not getting what you paid for is a common scam targeting online shoppers. 

A scammer will sell a product and send a faulty or inferior quality item, or nothing at all. They may also pretend to sell a product just to gather your credit card or bank account details. 

These scams can also be found on reputable online classified pages. 

An online auction scam involves a scammer claiming that you have a second chance to buy an item that you placed a bid on because the winner has pulled out. 

The scammer will ask you to pay outside of the auction site’s secure payment facility.

If you do, your money will be lost and the auction site will not be able to help you.

6. Banking, credit card and online account scams

Scammers send emails or text messages that appear to be from your bank, a financial institution or an online payment service. 

They usually claim that there is a problem with your account and request that you verify your details on a fake but convincing copy of the bank’s website.

Card skimming is the copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit card or automatic teller machine (ATM) card. 

Scammers skim your card by putting a discreet attachment on an ATM or EFTPOS machine. They may even install a camera to capture your pin. 

Once your card is skimmed, scammers can create copies and make charges to your account.

7. Small business scams

If you own a small business you can be targeted by scams such as the issuing of fake bills for unwanted or unauthorised listings, advertisements, products or services.

A well-known example is where you receive a bill for a listing in a supposedly well-known business directory.

Scammers trick you to sign up by disguising the offer as an outstanding invoice or a free entry, but with a hidden subscription agreement in the fine print. 

Scammers can also call your business pretending that a service or product has already been ordered and ask for payment over the phone.

8. Job and employment scams

These scams involve offers to work from home or set up and invest in a business opportunity. Scammers promise a job, high salary or large investment return following initial upfront payments.

These payments may be for a business plan, training course, software, uniforms, security clearance, taxes or fees. 

These scams are often promoted through spam email or advertisements in well-known classifieds, including websites.

9. Golden opportunity and gambling scams

Scams often begin with an unexpected phone call or email from a scammer offering a not-to-be-missed high return or guaranteed investment in shares, real estate, options or foreign currency trading. 

While it may seem convincing, in reality the scammer will take your money and you will never receive the promised returns. 

Another scam promises to accurately predict the results of horse races, sports events, stock market movements or lotteries. 

Scammers promise you huge returns based on past results and trends. In order to participate, you may be asked to pay for membership fees, special calculators, newsletter subscriptions or computer software programs.

10. Charity and medical scams

Scammers are unscrupulous and take advantage of people who want to donate to a good cause or find an answer to a health problem.

Charity scams involve scammers collecting money by pretending to work for a legitimate cause or charity, or a fictitious one they have created.

Often scammers will exploit a recent natural disaster or crisis that has been in the news.

They may also play on your emotions by claiming to collect for a cause that will secure your sympathy, for example to help sick children.

Medical scams offer a range of products and services that can appear to be legitimate alternative medicines, usually promising quick and effective remedies for serious medical conditions.

The treatments are often promoted using false testimonies from people who have been cured.

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Last updated: 27 June 2017