Despite a fall in romance scammers, the practice still concerns authorities

Despite a fall in romance scammers, the practice still concerns authorities

PEOPLE are continuing to fall for the promise of love despite a 34 per cent drop in romantic scams.

The 2016 Scam Review for WA shows the fraud remains the most common across the number of people duped by scammers last year.

Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said 377 victims reported losing $10,057,015 to scams in 2016, with $4.1 million lost to relationship fraud.

He said while most scams have seen a drop in victims and losses, romance and technology frauds were cause for concern.

“Technology scams have seen a 21 per cent increase in victim numbers while the losses have almost tripled,” he said.

Scammers contact victims usually by phone and pretend to be from a well-known telecommunications company, saying their computer has been hacked.

Mr Mischin said the fraudster tricks the person into giving remote access to their computer and then asks them to log on to their online banking.

The victims’ accounts are raided some time later.

He said the doubling of losses from investment scams to $2.6 million last year was another concern, even though there was a slight drop in victims.

“Using fake websites and sometimes stealing the identity of legitimate companies, the scammers dupe investors with promises of quick financial gains,” he said.

The Consumer Protection and Major Fraud Squad intervention Project Sunbird continued to be a successful in monitoring money transfers from Australia to countries in western Africa.

“The project has contained losses for many WA victims of romance and investment fraud, with about 74 per cent of the 700 people who received a letter from Sunbird ceasing to send more money, after being warned that they could be the victim of a scam,” the Minister said.

The 2016 Scam Review report released on Wednesday marked the destruction of 70,000 scam mail items bound for Australian homes intercepted in the past two years in a joint operation between Consumer Protection and Australia Post.

Scam letters usually inform recipients they have won a prize or lottery but must pay a small fee upfront in order to receive it.

The 2016 Scam Review report is online at scamnet.wa.gov.au and report scams to wascamnet@commerce.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.