Seven scams targeting Australians today

Online scams are on the rise. In 2022, it is estimated that losses to scams cost Australians around $4bn – with much of that unrecoverable.

Between January and September 2022, losses to online scams increased by 90 per cent on the previous year – with high-profile data leaks meaning we’re more at risk than ever before.

It’s important to be on the lookout for scams and fraudsters online, so here are seven of the most common ways that scammers are stealing money from Australians today.

Fake texts from banks

We’re all accustomed to getting text messages from our banks. Security codes, transfer details and payment confirmations regularly appear in our message alerts for very legitimate reasons.

Scammers, however, are using this – and preying on people’s scam suspicions – by sending messages that look as if they genuinely come from your bank. They’ll often appear in the same message ‘thread’ so it’s difficult to determine if it’s real or fake, and often there’ll be a sense of urgency – your account has been blocked, you’ve just made a transfer (and if it wasn’t you, you need to act immediately to stop it) or you’ve just requested a verification code.

Of course, each message is accompanied by a link to get more information from you (and/or download scamming software to your device), which scammers will use to steal your money.

In short: a genuine text from your bank will never include a link to click. If in doubt, call your bank on the publicly listed number provided online immediately.

Family scams

Family scams are some of the most common scams at present, and usually involve text messages allegedly from a child to a parent or grandparent.

The story usually goes something like this: the child’s regular phone has been damaged or stolen, so they’re messaging from a ‘new’ number. Once a few pleasantries have been exchanged, there’s a request for money – either a bill needs to be paid, or in some cases, it’s been alleged that a drug debt needs to be settled. There’s a threat of imminent danger, and money must be transferred immediately.

In some cases, the messages simply say, ‘Hi, it’s me’. In others, the scammers have taken information from social media to use real names, build up a background story and appear legitimate.

If you receive a message like this, delete it. If you are concerned about the safety of a family member or friend, call their original number to confirm their safety. Never send money to an unfamiliar bank account.

myGov refund

A scam currently doing the rounds is one that alleges to come from myGov, with an email promising a refund. It all looks pretty legitimate, and at first glance, the domain name looks real. Clicking the link will take you to a myGov-looking website that asks for your myGov login details and then your credit card information for the ‘refund’.

It is, of course, a scam. If you do have a myGov refund waiting for you, you’ll be able to see it by logging into your myGov account from the usual URL. Whatever you do, don’t follow the link included in the email.

Online selling scam

Many of us are becoming well-versed in selling our unwanted possessions on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. And in many cases, it’s all fine – people turn up (usually after haggling over a couple of dollars), hand over the cash and take their new ‘treasures’.

However, these online marketplaces are ripe for scammers, too.

How it usually works is this: someone says they’re interested in buying whatever you’re advertising, and then asks to pay via PayID. (PayID is when you have your bank account connected to either your phone number or ABN, and direct payments can be made to those numbers.)

If they are genuinely paying via PayID, they only need your phone number/ABN, however, in this scam, you’ll be asked to follow a link to put in your email address (allegedly they need it to make payment).

The scammer will then tell you they need you to transfer funds to increase your PayID limit before they can send you the money. Of course, this is just a scam.

If you are selling goods online, a genuine buyer will not encounter any issues paying you via PayID, PayPal or in cash. If you are purchasing goods on a marketplace, only ever hand over or transfer money once you’re in possession of the goods you’re buying.

Recruitment scams

A general principle of any sort of employment is that the employer pays the employee, not the other way around. However, last year, recruitment scams saw thousands of job-seeking Australians lose a combined total of $8.7m.

Scammers target people via email, SMS, fake social profiles or job posts offering employment. They’ll request personal information (it’s worth noting here that your date of birth and address are never required to apply for a job) and strike up a relationship with you by talking positively about the potential ‘job’. They will then request a payment – usually for training materials, a visa or credit checks. A genuine employer will never request money for such things.

Before engaging with any potential employer, check them out online – bearing in mind scammers will often use legitimate companies’ logos. Look at the email address being used to communicate with you – often, scammers will use a web-based email, such as Gmail – and be on your guard. If something seems suspicious, it likely is.

Dating scams

Many people fall victim to dating scams, and a lot of the time they go unreported due to embarrassment. The usual pattern is that people strike up conversations with potential partners online – the scammer is always using a fake profile, and will avoid any situation to show their face ‘live’ – including insisting their camera isn’t working on a video call. Once a relationship has been established, a request for money to help an ill family member or to pay to travel to meet up will be made. Sometimes, an investment opportunity is presented. Of course, once money is sent, the scammer will disappear – unless they see the potential for more. Never send money online to someone you’ve never met in person – someone who’s genuine will not ask you for money.

Investment scams

Investment scams are the most financially damaging type of scam – and in the first half of 2022 alone cost Australians more than $219m. Investment scams can take many forms – in some instances, fraudsters may even pretend to be your financial adviser or fund manager and offer you a high-return opportunity, with some significant urgency, of course.

There are a whole host of fake investment comparison sites, websites with faked ASIC endorsements, and fraudsters operating fake accounts on legitimate trading platforms. ‘News’ stories appear online with celebrities appearing to endorse investment opportunities, or an unsolicited contact may offer inside information on initial public offerings (IPOs) or public company floats.

Always be ultra-cautious about any investment opportunity, and never transfer money without being 100 per cent certain of its destination. If you’re ever in any doubt, speak to one of the team here at Fennell West, who’ll be able to assess the validity and potential of any investment opportunity you’re exploring.


Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is.

Keep yourself safe online: the ACCC’s Scamwatch site is full of information about the latest scams and tips on how to protect yourself online.