Warning over convincing phone scam used to steal $10m
A phone scam has conned Chinese-Australians out of a total of $10 million, with callers posing as Chinese authorities threatening deportation or arrest unless large sums of money is paid.
An incoming number, appearing to be from a NSW landline, is believed to be “spoofed” from an unknown location, making automated calls targetting Chinese nationals living in Australia, NSW Police confirmed to Yahoo7.
The caller, speaking in Mandarin, claims to be either from the Chinese embassy, police, or postal delivery company DHL, advising the receiver they are in trouble – either implicated in a crime or that their identity has been stolen.
The caller may either claim they have intercepted a parcel with the victim’s name and address on it, containing multiple fake passports, or that the victim’s bank account is compromised and has been used for criminal activities.
“The scammer will tell the victims they suspect they are involved in a crime, for example money laundering or embezzlement, and to avoid jail or deportation they need to pay a large sum of money for bail or to get a ‘priority investigation’ to clear their name,” Scamwatch warned in a statement.
The victim is then told the call will be transferred to “investigators” or “police”, who will demand personal details including bank accounts, PINs, passport number, family information, and in some cases, cash payments.
They are then told not to speak to friends or family as it may put them in danger too, NSW Police said.
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Sometimes the victims can even see a fake warrant with their names on it by logging on a false website, The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Australia warned.
The victims will be informed they can only solve this problem by transferring funds to an appointed bank account and cooperating with a “police investigation”.
Similar Chinese embassy scams have also reportedly targetted Chinese nationals living in the US and Canada.
China’s Deputy Consul-General in Sydney Tong Xuejun told the Daily Telegraph more than 1000 cases of the phone scam had been reported since August last year.
“We have confirmed about 40 cases that caused a loss. The total amount of money involved is about $10 million.”
He said the money stolen in each case ranged from $2000, to $3.5 million.
Police urged the community not to provide any personal information to suspicious callers, but report the call to local police as soon as possible.
Protect yourself tips
If you get called by someone making threats about arrest or deportation in relation to fake passports, it is a scam. Do not send them any money. Instead, hang up the phone immediately and report it to Scamwatch or your local police station;
Never provide your personal or banking details to a person who calls you;
Never provide your financial PIN or account passwords to anyone;
If you think you have provided your bank account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately;
If you are suspicious about the credentials of a person on the phone, ask questions of them. If they avoid answering or refuse to provide information, hang up.