Beware of advance-fee scam calls

People are being warned by Consumer Protection to stay vigilant when receiving phone calls from strangers asking for money.

Recently a Carnarvon woman said she was called by someone saying they were from the Australian Grants Department and told her she was eligible to claim up to $10,000.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said they had called saying she could claim the money for being a senior citizen.

Unsure, the woman asked for a return telephone number before giving any details over the phone.

The Department of Commerce confirmed the phone call was a scam.

Consumer Protection officer Danni Bloomfield said they had received a lot of reports from consumers who had received calls from people claiming to be from a number of Australian organisations, including banks and the Australian Tax Office.

“They are told that there is a large amount of money waiting for them because they have been overcharged with their bank fees, have tax refunds waiting to be collected, have won a prize from a lottery they haven’t entered, are recipients of an inheritance or are entitled to some form of funding,” she said.

“The catch is that they ask for a smaller amount of money in fees which needs to be sent first before the larger amount can be released.

“This should be a warning to those who have been contacted that this is a scam, which we refer to as an advanced-fee fraud.”

Ms Bloomfield said no bank, organisation or government department would ask for money to be sent up front, particularly by wire transfer, before sending you funds you are legitimately entitled to.

“Sending money by wire transfer to people you don’t know is very hazardous as, once it is collected, it can’t be recovered or traced,” she said.

”The scammers prey on vulnerable consumers, who may be more susceptible to intimidation.”

Consumers who believe they may be the target of a scam should contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54.

It was believed the calls originated from overseas.

ASHLEIGH TELFORD

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