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South Australians warned: you're never too smart to be scammed

12 August 2019

With Scams Awareness Week kicking off today and running until August 16, South Australians are being reminded that everyone is vulnerable to a scam.

The ACCC’s 2018 Targeting Scams report has revealed that while many of us think we’re too smart to be scammed, South Australians collectively lost more than $5.7 million to various scams last year.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said investment scams were often the most financially devastating, with over $2.1 million lost in 2018.

“Unsuspecting investors are tricked into making investments that are too good to be true,” Ms Chapman said. 

“It might look and sound legitimate – they’ll have flashy websites and sophisticated technology – so you decide to invest a small amount and when it rapidly grows, they’ll encourage you to invest more and more, encouraging your friends and family to invest as well.

“Of course, when you try to cash out, there are all sorts of reasons and excuses and ultimately you can’t get your money back.

“The average loss for someone involved in an investment scam is $32,000 – so it really pays to check with a reputable financial adviser before investing your hard-earned cash.”

Another more recent con sees scammers impersonating government agencies, threatening arrest or legal action.

“A number of people will have received these sorts of phone calls – usually from someone impersonating the tax office, Telstra or Australia Post – and it can be a frightening experience, especially for someone who’s particularly vulnerable,” Ms Chapman said.

“The easiest way to protect yourself is to just hang up.”

Across the country Australians have already made more than 75,000 reports to Scamwatch this year alone.

It’s easier to spot a scam if you know what to look for. Always be careful if:

  • someone you don’t know contacts you out of the blue
  • you’re asked to pay for something in an unusual way, like gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrencies
  • someone you’ve never met in person asks you for money
  • something sounds too good to be true – like an online shopping deal, or you have unclaimed inheritance or are invited to invest in an ‘amazing’ scheme
  • You’re asked for your personal information like your bank details or passwords to access your computer
  • Someone pressures you into buying something or making a decision quickly.

Visit the Scamwatch website for more information about reporting a scam or getting help:  www.scamwatch.gov.au/scamsweek2019