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Scammers double-scam victims by offering to help recover from scams

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission has warned that scammers are targeting scam victims with fake offers to help them recover from scams.

The Commission (ACCC) today warned that scammers are targeting victims of scams with schemes that solicit an up-front fee to recover money lost in past scams.

“Victims of previous scams are easily identified by criminals who commonly keep and sell information about individuals they have exploited,” the ACCC’s advisory states.

Armed with that info, the scammers contact victims and pretend to be “a trusted party such as a government agency, cyber security organization, fund recovery service, lawyer, consumer advocacy group or charity.”

The scammers tell victims they can recover losses for either an upfront fee, a percentage of the lost funds, or a tax payment.

To do so, these evil folk ask for personal information using the pretense of a need to verify identity. In the case of cryptocurrency scams, they claim credentials are needed to establish a digital wallet.

Some of the scammers request remote access to victims’ devices, claiming that’s necessary to obtain personal information and identification details.

People aged over 65 are the most frequent targets of these evildoers. The ACCC has recorded 158 reports with total losses of over AU$2.9 million ($1.9 million), including losses from the original scam. Unreported incidents would likely push those numbers higher.

Another tactic sees scammers position themselves as victims who managed to recover lost funds and offer their supposed expertise for a fee. Such offers are propped up with fake references – either to supposed customers or to review sites. Others place ads on social media or build their own websites to create an air of authenticity.

It’s all malicious malarkey.

“We know of a person who was the target of multiple scams in succession,” revealed ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe. “What began as a romance baiting investment scam was followed by a money recovery scam, which led to a remote access scam, and finally identity theft.”

Lowe said the Commission has flagged two websites used to promote recovery scams, and had one taken down by Australian authorities.

Sadly doing so won’t help victims to recover money. Lowe warned that most scammers move the proceeds of their evil efforts offshore ASAP, making it harder to recover.

Australia is in the process of creating a mandatory code applied to banks, digital communications platforms and telecommunications providers, each of which will be given certain obligations to detect, prevent, or compensate victims for scams.

The ACCC’s warning on the re-scam scams suggests that code should be introduced “as soon as possible.” ®