The Internet provides a medium whereby unscrupulous operators can target consumers, with the marketing of illegal schemes and scams. Some of the more common scams include:
- Get rich quick schemes
- Miracle health products
- Competitions & lotteries
- Pyramid/referring selling/multi-level marketing
- Nigerian loan/investment scams
- Work at home schemes
With the advancement of technology, email has become a fast and efficient method of forwarding unsolicited scam information to bulk recipients. Your address could have been obtained from various sources, including a virus affected address book that automatically sends or forwards mail without the knowledge of the user, or from online databases.
Be sceptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts. Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
The inquirer relies on some form of response on your behalf to continue the communication. Previous experience gleaned by law enforcement bodies indicates that if you do respond, the sender has obtained confirmation of an identity that they may later use to facilitate the commission of other offences. If you receive this type of email, it is recommended that you delete or ignore it without responding to the inquirer.
Be cautious when responding to special investment offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail) or when dealing with individuals/companies outside Australia, as problems can be experienced with locating the person and with the difference in laws.
Don’t invest in anything you are not absolutely sure about. Do your homework on the investment to ensure that it, the individual or the company is legitimate and inquire about all the terms and conditions. Check out other web sites regarding this person/company, however don’t automatically judge them by their web site.
Don't invest in anything based on appearances. Just because an individual or company has a flashy web site doesn't mean it is legitimate. Web sites can be created in just a few days and after a short period of taking money, a site can vanish without a trace. There have also been instances of websites being set up that ‘mirror’ the genuine website.
Misleading or deceptive conduct, or conduct which is likely to mislead or deceive is likely to contravene section 52 of the Trade Practices Act. Contact the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission if you think that you have been the subject of this type of conduct.
There is ample information available on the Internet in relation to scams currently marketed worldwide and the precautions to follow. Some of the following links offer advice on spotting cyber scams and methods to protect you from becoming a victim:
To subscribe to weekly updates of scams, send an email to: FairTradingUpdate@dtrft.qld.gov.au