Australian Consumer Watchdog Warns of Increased Money Recovery Scams

Colin Thierry
Colin Thierry Writer
Colin Thierry Colin Thierry Writer

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) warned consumers on Tuesday of an increase in money recovery scams.

These scams target people who have already lost money to a previous scam by promising to help victims recover their losses after paying a fee in advance, according to the consumer watchdog. Australians have lost over $270,000 to these scams so far this year, an increase of 301% compared to 2021.

“Scammers will ask for money and personal information before offering to ‘help’ the victim and will then disappear and stop all contact,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard explained. “Money recovery scams are particularly nasty as they target scam victims again. These scams can lead to significant psychological distress as many of the people have already lost money or identity information.”

During the first quarter of 2022, the ACCC has received 66 reports of money recovery scams, a 725% increase compared to the same period in 2021.

According to the consumer watchdog, scammers target previous scam victims and pose as a trusted organization like a law firm, fraud task force, or government agency. They also may have official-looking websites and use fake testimonials from other victims that they have ‘helped’.

Along with up-front payments, they often ask victims to fill out fake paperwork or provide identifying documents. Scammers may also request remote access to computers or smartphones, allowing them to scam their victims that way.

Another tactic the ACCC said these scammers may use is to contact people by phone or email who aren’t actually a victim of a scam and convince them that they’ve unknowingly been involved in one and are entitled to a settlement refund.

“If you get contacted out of the blue by someone offering to help recover scam losses for a fee, it is a scam. Hang up the phone, delete the email, and ignore any further contacts,” Rickard said. “Don’t give financial details or copies of identity documents to anyone who you’ve never met in person, and never give strangers remote access to your devices.”

“Scammers can be very convincing and one way to spot them is to search online for the name of the organization who contacted you with words like ‘complaint’, ‘scam’, or ‘review’,” she added.

About the Author

About the Author

Colin Thierry is a former cybersecurity researcher and journalist for SafetyDetectives who has written a wide variety of content for the web over the past 2 years. In his free time, he enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, watching sports, and playing video games.