INTERNATIONAL criminals are increasingly taking advantage of lonely Darling Downs residents during the COVID-19 pandemic with romance scams on the rise.
Australians have lost more than $19.7 million to online dating scams since the start of 2020, according to the Australian Government’s Scamwatch reporting website.
It has received more than 3600 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus with over $2.38 million in reported losses since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Common scams include phishing for personal information, online shopping, and superannuation scams.
These include scammers pretending to be government agencies providing information on COVID-19 through text messages and emails “phishing”https://www.thechronicle.com.au/” for your information.
These contain malicious links and attachments designed to steal personal and financial information or fake MyGov websites.
The news comes at law enforcement, consumer rights groups and cybersafety experts marked the start of National Scam Week yesterday.
“Unfortunately, these statistics are just the tip of the iceberg.
While just over 2000 victims have reported being scammed so far this year, the real number is believed to be much higher as many victims feel too ashamed to come forward,” RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said.
“COVID-19 has given these scammers an unfortunate window of opportunity, with many people isolated at home and craving connection.
“It’s a lot easier for a scammer to get through to a victim when they aren’t able to enjoy their normal social life both out of home and at work.”
Queenslanders needed to look out for each other, after the state reported the second highest loss in Australia in 2020 and three quarters of Queenslanders found it hard to spot scammers.
“This isn’t a list Queensland wants to be at the top of, it’s time we all stood up against romance scammers and helped our friends and family stay wary of their tactics,” Ms Ross said.
“We know most scammers will target you on social media or other online platforms, so if someone you don’t personally know starts to chat with you make sure to treat it with a degree of suspicion.
“If they start asking you for money, personal or private information or even asking you to transfer money for them, stop and report them to Scamwatch.”
If you have been scammed or receive suspicious emails, phone calls or messages report the information to scamwatch.gov.au.
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