Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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Internet fraudsters widen their net

October 13, 2009
ABOUT nine in 10 Australians have been the targets of scams, and 18 per cent have been sucked in to respond to fraudsters, exposing themselves to crime worth almost $1 billion a year.

As Australians grow wary of established cons, new ”work from home”, ”inheritance” or ”dating” offers are the most successful types of consumer fraud.

They include invitations to work from home for businesses that are money laundering operations for criminal networks; fake profiles on dating websites for women who later ask for money to visit Australia; and bogus psychics and clairvoyants.

Meanwhile, police experts say social networking websites and unsecured wireless internet networks are giving identity thieves a new mine of information.

The Australian Institute of Criminology has warned of a string of new scams in its report Consumer fraud in Australia: costs, rates and awareness of the risks in 2008.

Based on an online survey of 919 people published yesterday, it found about 5 per cent of people replied to more conventional lottery, phishing or money transfer scams in the previous 12 months, but 10 per cent had been tricked by newer scams.

In one elaborate inheritance scam, a survey respondent paid tens of thousands of dollars for legal fees or stamp duties in anticipation of a promised $2.5 million estate that never existed.

Although there were fewer of them, the newer ruses may be more successful in luring victims because they are not as notorious as established cons, the report said. But most originate in Nigeria or West Africa and some are highly sophisticated, the co-author, Russell Smith, said.

The findings are a dramatic increase on previous scam surveys, although they may be less reliable because the sample group was self-selecting, the authors said.

Last year the Bureau of Statistics published a Personal Fraud Survey of 14,000 people which revealed 5 per cent of Australians had fallen victim to consumer fraud in a year, losing almost $1 billion.

At a National Identity Crime Symposium on the Gold Coast yesterday, police experts said identity fraud was costing the economy up to $3 billion a year. Criminals were harvesting data that could be used years from now, corporate crime squad police said.

”The 13-year-old child with today’s online social networking is unwittingly providing the profile for exploitation in only five years’ time,” they said.

Detective Sergeant Steve Bignell of the Queensland police computer crime investigation unit said 50 per cent of Australia’s wireless internet networks are not safe from hackers.

The Consumer Affairs Minister, Craig Emerson, said the Government is working with other countries to crack down on scammers and introduce new penalties, including fines of up to $1.1 million.


October 20, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Great post.Thank you for that information.For me the easiest and fastest way to make money online is with paid surveys.I make $200 – 300 /day for sharing my opinion.


    Comment by John Johnson | December 20, 2009 | Reply

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