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The 10 biggest scams of 2019 so far

There are people out there trying to steal your money, and these are the ways they're trying to do it. (Photo: Getty)
There are people out there trying to steal your money, and these are the ways they're trying to do it. (Photo: Getty)

It’s been barely five months into 2019, and scammers have been very busy.

This year alone, Yahoo Finance has caught wind of a stunning 14 scams, with government agencies like the ATO and the ACCC issuing warnings to Aussies more than 3 times a month on average.

Scammers are constantly evolving and switching tactics in order to catch you unawares, and it has significant consequences for individuals and businesses.

The ACCC revealed on Monday that Aussies lost nearly half a billion to scams last year – but this is only the “tip of the iceberg”.

Here are the 10 biggest scams of 2019 so far:

Business email compromise: Australian businesses last year lost $3.8 million to a sophisticated ‘business email compromise’. It ensnared small and big business alike, as well as small local sporting clubs and community groups; any organisation that transfers money through bank accounts are potential targets. Small businesses, with 20 staff or less, were most likely to be targeted and made up 75 per cent of reports to the ACCC.

ATO caller ID: Aussies were again warned about scammers manipulating their number to show up as the ATO on their caller ID. The pre-recorded robo-call threatened victims with immediate arrest or aggressively demand payment. The price for falling for these scams is high: in total, more than $1 million has been lost.

Child porn claims: Australians were warned about an email pretending to be from the CIA threatening arrest for storage of child porn – unless they pay AU$14,000 in Bitcoin.

Loom scam: The ‘loom scam’ involved people drawing victims in by promising $2,400 if they transfer $300 into a ‘loom’ account and encourage eight others to do the same.Victims are told that they’ll move closer to the middle of a ‘circle’ where their ‘hierarchy’ will rise alongside the money they’ll receive. As at mid-April, Scamwatch had received more than 100 reports of the scheme that have resulted in more than $7,600 lost.

SIM swap: Your number is all you need for scammers to steal from you, and they do it by pretending to be you and switching your number to a SIM in the fraudster’s possession.

PIN hack: Scammers are getting to you when your guard is down. Hackers were able to access people’s Whatsapp accounts while they’re asleep just by exposing a loophole that exists because you don’t change your default PIN code.

‘View bill’: Aussies are being warned about fake EnergyAustralia emails where clicking on the ‘view bill’ button will see malicious software downloaded onto the victim’s computer.

Fake ANZ email: Scammers get away with what they do by convincing victims they’re the real deal. Early March saw ANZ customers hit with an email that looked just like the real thing asking customers to ‘verify’ their banking details and identity.

‘Tax refund’: The ATO once again warned against an email from scammers pretending to be from myGov. The email, complete with a myGov logo, asks the recipient to fill out an application form for a fake tax refund with the aim of stealing their personal information.

Fake Paypal: The scam email informs the victim that their Paypal account will be permanently disabled within 48 hours if they don’t ‘update account details’ and ‘activate [their] account’ with the link provided. The link then takes you to a fake Paypal login webpage where details you enter will be captured by cyber criminals, the ACSC warned.

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