While all eyes are on WhatsApp’s new viral scam called “Hello Mom,” another type of scam has flown under the radar.
“Hi Mum” scams have become big news lately, with scammers posing as family members to trick Australians into handing over $2.6 million so far this year to scammers.
But another sneaky scam has seen a monstrous rise this year, costing victims more than $242 million, a massive increase on last year’s total of $177 million lost for the entire year.
Investment scams account for more than two-thirds of reported losses from all scam types combined so far in 2022.
However, the actual amount lost to these scams is believed to be much higher, with research showing that only 13 per cent of Australians report their losses to Scamwatch.
One of the most common types of investment scams involves a random individual or group contacting their victim by phone, email, or social media and offering them the opportunity to invest in a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
They can pretend to be someone you know, such as your fund manager, financial advisor, bank, or even a friend, offering you guaranteed or unrealistic high returns on an investment.
Aaron Bugal, a global solutions engineer at Sophos, said fraudsters are using text messages more than ever to gain access to personal information, passwords and credit card details.
“Scammers are getting more brazen and personal, preying on people’s trust, emotions and curiosity more than ever,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“Fraudsters will continue to find innovative ways to contact victims, using alternative messaging systems within popular mobile apps and online games, with the trend continuing with anything else that becomes popular.”
Working adults, mainly in the 25-44 age group, are the main victims of investment scams, which are usually (27.9 percent) done through a phone call, with 19 percent by email and 18.5 percent through social networks.
Bugal said the scams are becoming more personalized and harder to spot.
“General spray and pray tactics, while still popular, are being replaced by targeted attacks that are tailored to the individual,” he said.
“Scammers are researching and accessing their victims’ data before making contact, which more effectively lulls them into a false sense of security.”
He said that people should expect cybercriminals to take advantage of any information you put on the public Internet against you.
“Scammers use a sense of urgency to get people to act quickly and without thinking,” he said.
“If you receive a text, phone call or email that doesn’t seem right, please call the suspected sender directly using verifiable contact details.”
If you receive a suspicious call, you should always take precautions,” said Bugal.
“If someone from your bank or similar institution contacts you, pause for a moment, say that you are in the middle of something important (meal, meeting, shopping, anything, just hang up the phone) and say that you will call them. back,” she said.
“Do not use the phone number that is displayed in your phone’s call history; in fact, this may be the line of the scammer”
The investment scam expert said it was important to report scams so government agencies can learn more about the new tactics being used.
To report a scam, visit scamwatch.gov.au