Fake Charity Scams on the Rise
14 July 2015 at 12:44 pm
The number of fake charities scamming money from vulnerable Australians is on the increase, according to new figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC has urged people not to send money to strangers after $45 million has been reported lost to a variety of scammers already this year from 45,000 complaints made, including a rise in the number of fake charity complaints.
The latest ACCC monthly figures on the impact of fake charity scammers shows that almost $8500 was scammed in June from unsuspecting donors by fake charities – with the most common scam carried out over the phone (67 per cent).
The new monthly figures have been released as part of the ACCC launch of a new Scamwatch website which allows the public to report scams.
The June figures show a jump from the $3150 scammed by reported fake charities in May and a more significant jump since April when losses of just $525 were reported to the ACCC.
The figures show that email charity scams are running at just over 10 per cent of all fake charity approaches, with personal asks for money at around 9 per cent.
The ACCC said scammers impersonate genuine charities and ask for donations or contact people claiming to collect money for relief efforts after natural disasters.
“Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to get your money or personal details. Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it,” ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across Australia. There's no one group of people who are more likely to become a victim of a scam and all of us may be vulnerable to a scam at some time.
“For the first time, the ACCC has published data on common scams that are causing the most harm in Australia, which will be updated every month on Scamwatch. This tool will help you keep one step ahead of the scammers.
“When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether it's over the phone, by mail, email, in person or on a social networking site, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is."
The new Scamwatch site says fake charity approaches occur all year round and often take the form of a response to real disasters or emergencies, such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes and bushfires.
“Scammers will pose as either agents of legitimate well-known charities or create their own charity name. This can include charities that conduct medical research or support disease sufferers and their families,” the Scamwatch site said.