Understanding fraud and scams
Some scams are very easy to spot while others may appear to be genuine offers or bargains. Scams can even take place without you doing anything at all. Most scams need you to do something before they can work. You may be asked to send money to someone based on a promise that turns out to be false. You may give your personal details to people who turn out to be scammers. Some scams rely on you agreeing to deals without getting advice first, or buying a product without checking it out properly.
If you think you may have been approached by or fallen victim to a fraudster, please report the matter to local police. Below we have outlined some common scams relating to foreign exchange transfers that you should be aware of.
Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves the theft of your personal information including your name, date of birth, address and other details. Fraudsters then use this information to proceed with the following; open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, start an illegal business or even apply for a drivers licence.
What to do if you have had your identity stolen
If you think someone has stolen your identity and is committing crimes in your name, you should:
Step 1 – File a report with your local police department immediately.
Ask for a copy of the police report as banks and financial institutions will want to see it.
Step 2 – Contact your bank or financial institution
Tell your bank, credit provider or the relevant company what has happened. If any accounts have been opened with your stolen details, ask for them to be closed or cancelled. You may need to ask them to set you up new accounts and PINs.
Step 3 – Inform the relevant government agency or refer to your local authority.
If your driver’s licence, passport, citizenship papers, healthcare card, birth, marriage and change of name certificates, tax file number, social security number, superannuation or pension details have been stolen, let the relevant agency know.
Step 4 – Place a fraud alert and get your credit report
You should tell the credit reporting agency that you have been a victim of identity theft so they can note it in your file. Check your credit report to see what companies have checked your credit history recently, and let them know not to authorise any new accounts in your name.
This list is not exhaustive. These are only some of the first few steps. Identity theft can be devastating, both financially and emotionally. Follow the above guidelines to protect yourself and always alert the authorities if you suspect your details have been stolen or are being misused.
Phishing or spoofing
“Phishing” or “spoofing” is a type of scam whereby a perpetrator sends fraudulent emails or other communications that appear to have come from legitimate companies in an effort to “phish” for personal information such a person’s address, telephone number or banking details. Recipients are generally redirected to a fake website and asked to enter personal information which is subsequently used for fraudulent purposes.
Identifying fraudulent phishing emails
Email scams are a cheap, easy and efficient way for criminals to attempt contact with people in order to gather personal or financial details from them. Keep these things in mind to protect you when using email:
- Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know.
- If you don’t know who sent the email, consider deleting it.
- Stop and think before clicking on any links.
- Scan email attachments with security software before opening them.
- Legitimate companies and websites will not ask you to confirm personal details or passwords via email, so do not reply to emails requesting this sort of information.
- Beware of emails that don’t address you by name.
- Never post your email address on online forums.
5 ways to catch a Phish
Step 1 – Hover
One common phishing technique is to include links in an email that look like they go to a legitimate website. Upon closer inspection, the link may actually take you to a website that has nothing to do with the company the email is pretending to be from, even though the resulting website may be designed to look exactly the same
Step 2 – Copy and Paste
If you can’t see the URL where the links direct when you:
- Hover over them
- Copy and paste the link into a Microsoft Word document
- Right click on the pasted link and select “Edit Hyperlink” from the menu that appears
- Select “Edit Hyperlink” to open a pop-up window which will show the web address to which the link directs
Step 3 – Investigate the email’s properties
Outlook users who have opened the suspicious email can:
- Go to the “File” tab and select “Properties, a pop-up window will appear
- Refer to the box at the bottom of the window labelled “Internet headers.” This box shows the path the email took to reach the end-user.
- Look at the originating systems and if they’re not from OFX, Messagelabs or other trusted email blast systems, those are tip-offs that it’s a phishing email.
Step 4 – Act on information that you know for sure is trustworthy
If you have received an email from us regarding a fraud alert, you ought to see if that same fraud alert has been listed on our security page. If you’re at all uncertain, please contact our dealing team and always work on information that you have a lot more reason to trust.
Step 5 – Be cautious about how you contact a business
The best defence against phishing scams, is to assume the email is untrustworthy and to pursue direct channels to businesses that you trust.
Dating and romance scams
Dating and romance scams can be very elaborate hoaxes, sometimes taking years to develop and run by experienced criminal syndicates. Fraudsters often approach their victims on legitimate dating websites before attempting to move the ‘relationship’ away from the safeguards that these sites put in place; communicating through other methods such as email, where they can more easily manipulate victims.
The fraudsters develop a strong connection with the victim before asking for money to help cover costs associated with a supposed illness, injury, family crisis, travel costs or to pursue a business or investment opportunity.
Tips to detect an online dating scam
Some of the common behaviours to look out for are:
- They quickly want to move off the website onto personal email or phone number for communications.
- They do not use correct grammar and/or spelling.
- They make plans to visit you, but quickly back out due to a tragic event or illness.
- They start asking you personal questions about your finances early on in the relationship.
To protect yourself:
- Watch out for cut and paste profiles. Do an internet search of different elements of the profile, especially images provided by the individual.
- Do not supply additional images of yourself or your family as these can be used by a scammer to scam someone else.
- Never give personal background information.
If you suspect you are being scammed, stop contact immediately and report the scammer to the authorities.
Advance fee fraud scams
Advance fee fraud scams are when fraudsters target victims to make advance payments for services, investments and/or promise financial gains which do not materialise.
Investment fraud is a deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses which is in violation of securities laws.
Offers of risky investment opportunities to unsophisticated investors who are unable to evaluate risk adequately and cannot afford loss of capital is a central problem.
There are many different types of investment scams including, but not limited to;
- Ponzi schemes
- Boiler rooms
- “Pump and dump”
- Pyramid schemes
- ‘Nigerian 419’ scams
Investment scams can look and sound believable, with smooth-talking individuals, sophisticated brochures and websites. This can make it hard to tell them apart from genuine investment opportunities.
How to spot and avoid investment scams
- Research before you invest.
- Unsolicited emails, phone calls, message board postings and company news releases should never be used as the sole basis for your investment decisions.
- Understand a company’s business and its products or services before investing.
- Do your own research on the company and take the time to seek independent professional or legal advice.
- Don’t rely only on their information to make your decision and do not be pressured to make a quick decision you could regret later.
- Be wary if someone recommends foreign or “off-shore” investments. If something goes wrong, it’s harder to find out what happened and to locate money sent abroad.
- “Guaranteed returns” are to be approached with caution. Every investment carries some degree of risk, which is reflected in the rate of return you can expect to receive. If your money is perfectly safe, you’ll most likely get a low return. High returns entail high risks, possibly including a total loss on the investments. It might be an opportunity to invest in shares, with the promise that the returns will be high and the risks to your money are low or non-existent. But generally speaking; the bigger the proposed return, the greater the risk.
To check the legitimacy of the person making you the offer, try asking these questions:
- What is your name and what company do you represent?
- Who owns your company?
- Does your company have a Financial Services licence and what is the licence number?
- What is your address?
If they try to avoid answering these questions, it is probably a scam. Hang up the phone, do not respond to the email or stop dealing with the person.
Overall, take the time to do your own independent research.