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Think first then dial

Scams, cybercrime and cyberbullying


Dealing with online abuse

Australia has strong laws to prevent and deal with harm caused by serious online abuse and illegal and restricted online content.

If you or someone you know experiences online abuse, you can go to eSafety for help – Australia's regulator for online safety.

​How eSafety can help

eSafety can help to get harmful online content removed, provided it meets the legal threshold for investigation.

It can investigate:

  • Cyberbullying - Serious harmful online communication to or about a child or young person under 18. This behaviour can include being mean online, sending hurtful messages, sharing embarrassing photos and creating fake accounts.
  • Adult cyber abuse – Seriously harmful online communication to or about a person who is 18 or older. This content is menacing, harassing or offensive and intended to cause serious harm. It may include tech abuse, being cyber stalked, threatened online or being doxed (having private or identifying information published typically without consent and/or with malicious intent).
  • Image based abuse - Sharing or threatening to share nudes or intimate images or videos of a person without their consent - sometimes called 'revenge porn' or sexual extortion.
  • Illegal or restricted content - Content that shows or encourages the sexual abuse or exploitation of children, terrorist acts or other types of violent crimes or extreme violence.​

How to make a report

Online abuse can happen on a social media site, game, app or any other online or electronic platform. it can include posts, comments, texts, messages, chats, livestreams, memes, images, videos and emails.

There are different steps to follow when you make a report - based on the type of abuse:

  • For cyberbullying and adult cyber abuse: Report to the online service or social platform first. If they don't remove the content within 48 hours, report to eSafety.
  • For image-based abuse or illegal and restricted content: Report to eSafety immediately.

Find out more about what eSafety can investigate, how to make a report and how to collect evidence.

Even if eSafety cannot get the material removed, they will check that you are safe and give you support and information to help you protect yourself.

For more information go to the eSafety website.

Watch our video on cyberbullying here.

Scams and cybercrime

Scams could impact you

Scams themselves are not new (think Nigerian prince), but the tactics and methods being used to carry out scams are continually evolving.

By being smarter with your data, verifying the source or knowing how to spot scams you can help protect yourself from losing your identity, your reputation or your life savings.

Know the scam - Recent examples

Online puppy scams

SA Police has seen a recent increase in fraudulent advertisements for puppies online. Scammers’ tactics are extremely sophisticated which often leaves even the most vigilant people out of pocket.

Read more

Warning for online sellers

There have been reports of robberies after victims have listed items for sale on popular buying/selling websites and social media. Items commonly targeted are Apple products, jewellery, designer shoes/clothes, and vehicles.

If you are selling items online then please follow this safety advice:

  • Always meet in a public space that you are familiar with, ideally in an area with CCTV cameras, during daylight hours.
  • Gather details about the potential buyer before meeting -- their name, phone number and email address.
  • Tell at least one person where you are going and who you are with, consider bringing someone else along.
  • Ask for identification from the buyer e.g. a driver’s licence, if they request a ‘test drive’.
  • Take note of the person’s appearance and their vehicle and registration number.
  • Be conscious that fake internet banking records can be created. Do not hand over items until you see the funds arrive in your account.
  • If the buyer wishes to pay with cash, confirm they have money to pay. Sometimes the offenders are hoping to grab the items quickly and run- reducing their exposure and minimising the chance of being identified.
Family impersonation scam (added August 2022) - Watch video

Sarah received a message on a popular messaging app from what she thought was her daughter. The message read “Hey Mum, it’s me. I have broken my phone and I need some money urgently to pay an overdue bill” and it was not from her daughter's regular number. Being a kind and caring mother, Sarah believed the message had been sent from her daughter and she agreed to pay $2000 for what she thought was an overdue bill. Sarah transferred the funds to the account provided.

The following day Sarah went to visit her daughter and she was shocked to discover the messages weren’t from her daughter. Sarah unfortunately had found herself victim of a family impersonation scam.

Although scammers will use messaging apps the majority of the time to deceive victims, they also have successfully used regular text messages to reel people in. Always call the original number that you have saved for that person and speak to them to confirm the message has in fact been sent by them.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how scams work from scamwatch.gov.au

Watch our video on family impersonation scams here.

Airfare scams (added November 2021)

In November 2021, a 40 year-old male saw an advertisement for cheap airfares whilst browsing through a popular social media platform. Being unaware the advert was a fake, he enquired about the offer and communication was quickly moved to a separate messaging platform. A quote was sent to him and he received a follow up phone call to confirm itinerary details, adding a sense of legitimacy to the purchase. He was then asked to make payment via bank transfer and provide a copy of his passport.

Unfortunately, the company did not exist and he lost his money together with his personal details which could result in his identity being used for other criminal activities.

Scammers are taking advantage of the relaxation in COVID-19 border restrictions and people’s eagerness to travel.  By impersonating seemingly legitimate travel agencies through the creation of fake ads and websites, scammers are luring people with the promise of affordable travel.

South Australia Police recommend that people conduct their own independent research and use reputable/known travel agencies where possible. Never trust reviews on the website or contained within the social media post itself and remember - if it appears too good to be true, it probably is!

Container shipping scam (added September 2021)

In July 2021, James placed an online order for two shipping containers from what appeared to be a reputable company with a professional looking website. He made a bank transfer to the container supplier for $10,000 which appeared to be good deal in comparison with other suppliers. The containers were due to be delivered three weeks later but they failed to arrive. James did not realise that he had been scammed until after the expected build timeframe had elapsed. He received no further contact from the company and he is unable to reach them.

Shipping containers are not cheap, so be cautious of low cost containers costing a lot more from other suppliers. Police recommend that you conduct your own independent research into businesses by using a search engine and never trust the reviews or testimonials from the company’s website itself. Don’t be afraid to ask the company to inspect the container before you make a purchase.

Account compromise scams (added July 2021)

Incident One

Adam received a phone call from his financial institution’s Anti-Fraud Section, alerting him to an unauthorised withdrawal of $200. Whilst on the phone, they advised him they could see a further $800 had just been withdrawn and the suspects were attempting to transfer a further $9000. The caller requested Adam withdraw all his money and they would arrange for a security guard to attend his house and collect it for safe keeping. Concerned that his money was going to be stolen, Adam complied with the requests.

Later that day, the security guard came to his house and collected the money for safe keeping along with his bankcard and pin to be securely destroyed.

Adam has since discovered that the call was actually made by scammers, not his financial institution, and that $20 000 in total had been withdrawn from his account.

Incident Two

Emma received a phone call from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) advising that her identity had been stolen and her Tax File Number had been compromised. Emma was asked how much money she had in her bank account and was advised to withdraw all the funds before they were stolen. The caller directed Emma to put the money in an envelope and to label it with her name and date, and that a courier would meet her to take it to Canberra for safe keeping.

Emma was asked to take a photo of her car via a messaging app so that the courier could find her, and was provided with a passcode to check the courier was legitimate. When the courier arrived, Emma became suspicious and initially refused to hand over the envelope, but the caller stated that she would be arrested if she didn’t.

Emma has since discovered that she had reason to be suspicious, as the entire encounter had been orchestrated by a team of scammers, and not the AFP.

Our advice:

  • Never trust a call that you receive out of the blue. Instead, call the organisation back on a known, reputable number to check the authenticity of a call.
  • Financial institutions should have the ability to freeze funds and secure accounts where they suspect unauthorised access has occurred.
  • Government agencies will not request that you withdraw cash for safe keeping or use a courier service to transport money.

Real life local stories in South Australia

The following are reports recently received by South Australia Police. While some of the names and suburbs have been altered for privacy reasons, the modus operandi of the scam is real.  Scammers regularly change their methods and messages so it is important to keep up to date with local scams.

Discounts and refund scams

Incident One

Joan received a phone call, at a time when she was feeling overwhelmed by the number of bills she had, from a service that offered to pay her bills for her at a discounted rate. Joan’s friend had given this service her details and had used it herself.

Joan was a little suspicious but decided to try it out with one of her almost due bills. Joan provided the service with the details of the water bill and they immediately paid it. She even contacted SA Water and was able to confirm that her account had been paid.

Joan was very pleased and provided the service with her other outstanding bills, which were all duly paid off. Joan just had to go to the bank and put the discounted amount, in this case 80%, of the bill into an account provided by the service. This saved Joan a lot of money.

Almost a month later Joan received a stack of bills from her providers, all of which were overdue. She contacted them and was told that the payments had been made with a stolen credit card and the money refunded to the financial institutions. The credit card company executed a chargeback to the utility company, reversing payment of the settled bill using the stolen credit card.  The bills were then re-issued back to Joan and that's when she realised she was scammed. Joan was liable for bills and all overdue fees and had lost the money she paid to the service.

This scam, known as a “Bill Discount” scam is relatively new in South Australia.

Incident Two

In May 2020, a 40-year-old male received a phone call from his telecommunications provider. They informed him that because he had been a loyal customer, they could offer him a 30% discount on his bill. Interested in the discount, the male verified his identity by providing his personal details. Shortly after he received an SMS with a one-time code, which he read to the caller to approve the discount. It turns out the caller was not from his telco provider and was in fact a scammer. The scammer used the information provided to purchase a brand new phone, which he sent directly to himself.

SMS one-time PINs are used to verify that you are who you say that you are. This additional security feature works by sending a code to your phone, confirming that you have physical possession of the device. These codes usually relate to online interactions, so do not give this code to anyone, even someone asking for it over the phone.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how scam works from scamwatch.gov.au

Classified scams

Incident One

In August 2020, Dave from Salisbury listed his car on Gumtree for sale for $13,500. Dave was contacted by someone interested in purchasing the car. They agreed a price of $13,000 and the ‘buyer’ attended Dave’s address to look at the car.

The buyer attended with three other men and after driving the car were happy to purchase it. Dave agreed that a bank transfer of the money was acceptable. The buyer asked Dave to put his bank details into the buyer’s online banking app. A few minutes later, with Dave having been distracted by the other members of the group, the ‘buyer’ then showed Dave a receipt showing the successful  transfer of $13,000.

The buyer and his three mates then left in possession of the car. A few days later Dave noticed that the money had still not arrived in his bank account. He attempted to contact the buyer without success. It appears as though the buyer had blocked Dave’s number preventing him from making contact.

This type of scam is known as ‘Classifieds Fraud’. There are two distinct types of Classifieds Fraud.  The most common is where the victim believes they have purchased an item, transfers the money, but never receives the goods. The second type – like this example – is the opposite where the victim is selling something and the scammer convinces them that they have paid and takes possession of the goods, but the money never arrives.

There are several ways that this can be done; in this instance it appears the scammer has created a fake transfer receipt suggesting the money transfer was successful. Another common method is via Paypal payment where the scammer cancels the transfer after the victim sees the successful transfer notification.

Police recommend not handing over possession until you are satisfied the funds are cleared and in your account and that the transfer cannot be cancelled.

SA Police and Crime Stoppers have released this video on one of the latest scams circulating in South Australia.

Incident Two

In July 2020, a member of the public seeking to rent a property viewed an attractively priced listing on a popular social media platform. The potential renter requested a face to face meeting through the post to view the property but they were advised that due to COVID 19  it was not possible.  The potential tenant was asked to transfer a bond to secure the property together with the first week's rent before handing over keys to which they agreed to do. After the money was transferred there was no further contact made and all the money was lost and never recovered. The posting was in fact a fake and the image had been obtained from an official real estate website.

Avoid using social media to view properties for rent or sale, instead use reputable real estate websites and view the property in person before parting way with any money. Whilst this particular scam relates to rental properties, the same advice applies for holiday rentals, classifieds and other goods purchased online.

Threat of arrest scams

Incident one

In April 2019 Rose from Morphett Vale received a phone call from an unknown number that showed an area code outside of South Australia. When Rose answered the phone a male informed her that he was a federal agent from the ATO and that she owed $1,000. The ‘agent’ told Rose she had less than an hour to clear this debt otherwise police would arrest her and that he had a warrant ready to go. He then told her to call her local station to confirm this information. The caller supplied Rose with the number for her local station (which was correct) after asking her what her local station was.

Whilst Rose was on the phone, she missed a call from a number that appeared to be from her local station - it showed the number and suburb where the station was located. She called the number back by pressing the call back button. Rose then listened to the automatic message that her local station plays before being put through to an officer. But Rose was not calling her local station, and it was not a member of South Australia Police that she was talking to. It was the scammer posing as a federal agent who had spoofed the caller ID on Rose’s phone. Even though it looked like she was calling the police, she had called the scammer back at an unknown location.

Rose followed the instructions she was given to pay the debt, attending a local store that sold gift cards, purchasing the amount she ‘owed’ and sending the details through a separate phone app that she was told to download. Rose lost $1000.

Incident two

Listen to the arrest scam here

In February 2019, Debra from Grange received a phone call from someone alleging to work for a government agency. The caller advised Debra that she had in excess of $5000 worth of outstanding fines, and that if she didn’t pay it back, she would be arrested. Debra was convinced that the fines and threat were real, because upon providing the caller with the details of her local police station, she received a phone call from the Henley Beach Police Station phone number. Debra bought over $2000 worth of gift cards and provided the caller with the card numbers as she was told to. Debra then bought some more gift cards, but a staff member at the shop she was in told her she might be getting scammed. This staff member saved Debra from losing another $2000 to the scammer.

Incident three

Tom received a phone call from someone who identified themselves as working for a government agency. The caller advised Tom that he had an unpaid tax debt and that if he failed to pay it immediately, he would be arrested. Tom queried the caller, stating that he used Peppers Accounting to lodge his tax returns. The caller asked for the phone number of the accounting firm which Tom provided. Tom was convinced that his debt was legitimate, as shortly after, he received a phone call from the Peppers Accounting phone number. Tom followed the caller’s directions, purchasing a large sum of gift cards and passing the card numbers onto the caller. It turns out that the phone calls were in fact from scammers and not the agencies they stated. The scammers used a tactic called ‘phone spoofing’ which is where they change the incoming caller ID to appear as though it was coming from the accounting firm. Tom was not able to recover the money he spent on gift cards.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au

Dating and romance scams

Karen lives in Adelaide. Over two years ago she started a relationship with a person living overseas. Karen put $50,000 into his bank account which she thought was going towards his education. When Karen travelled overseas to meet her online partner in person he didn’t turn up. She has ceased all contact with him but she has been left emotionally broken and $50,000 poorer.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au.

Sextortion - Watch video

Incident one

Barry started speaking with a person on a dating website who stated they were an adult entertainment model. As the conversation progressed, the model got Barry to speak to her ‘manager’ requesting a booking fee to meet up with the model, but assured Barry that he would get the money back when he met the model in person. Barry transferred the money, in addition to another $200 to book a hotel room. The manager stated they never received the funds, and requested Barry transfer more, to which he refused. Barry kept chatting with the model, which lead to him sending intimate photographs of himself. On doing so, he was threatened to pay money to the scammers or they would release his photos to his family members and friends on social media. Barry did not pay the scammers the money and reported the matter to police.

Incident two

Craig received a friend request from an unknown person on social media. He accepted the request and exchanged messages with his new friend. The following day, this evolved into engaging in intimate acts. Shortly after, Craig was contacted by scammers, with attachments containing video footage and photographs of him engaging in acts from the day before. He was threatened to pay $2000 or the footage would be released to all of his social media friends.

Incident three

Bruce from Norwood received an email from an unknown person, stating that he had been filmed through his webcam whilst visiting an adult site. The email contained an old password of Bruce’s, which the scammer offered up as proof  they had gained remote access to his computer. The scammers threatened the footage would be release to family and friends if he failed to pay a sum of money. Bruce did not pay the money. No such footage existed, and the scammers had not gained access to Bruce’s computer. The scammers supplied an old password used by Bruce, which had been compromised in a data breach some years earlier.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au

Watch our video on sextortion here.

Computer hacking/remote access scams

Incident one

In December 2020, Susan received a phone call from eBay advising her that her online shopping account had been hacked. After confirming that the purchases had not been made by her, the caller requested Susan to download an app that would assist in reinstating her compromised account. After installing the app and providing personal identification including her bank account, the caller was able to verify the account for her. Susan was told she would be reimbursed for the purchases made and would receive a call back when the money had been refunded.

Unfortunately the app that she had downloaded was a type of remote access software that provided the caller with full access and control of Susan’s phone. When she logged into her bank account to see if she had been refunded, she realised that large sums of money had been transferred out of her account by the scammers instead.

Incident two

Joan from Marion received a phone call on her mobile phone from a man claiming to be from her telco, offering to fix her slow internet connection. Joan was asked by the caller to download and install an app on her mobile phone that she was unfamiliar with. Joan complied with this request, installing the application without hesitation believing she was speaking with a legitimate representative of her telco. Joan was told that she had to transfer a small sum of money to the telco, but that it would be returned to her bank account immediately. Joan complied with this request, which provided the caller with all of her banking details as the application she had installed allowed ‘remote access’ to her phone. This essentially meant the caller could see everything on Joan’s screen and even control her device. When Joan checked her bank balance she saw that her bank account had been emptied. The caller was in fact a scammer and not a representative of any telco.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au

Unexpected prize scam

Incident one

A 65-year-old woman received a message on Facebook Messenger apparently from a friend. It had the friend’s photo and name on it. The message advised the victim of a Facebook compensation lottery, which her friend had won, and for which the victim was eligible. The message contained a link to a claim agent. The victim was promised $35,000 if she paid a $9,500 insurance fee. While the victim paid $2578 (including $28 bank fee), she was asked to pay the rest but advised she couldn’t pay any more as she was on a pension. A few days later the victim has asked for her money back and was told the agent would start a process to refund the money. She has been in contact and is repeatedly told they are working on it. The victim finally told the agent that she wanted her money back this week, or she would go to the police. The victim has had no further contact.

Incident two

Sally was on holiday when she received a message via social media from a ‘friend’ telling her that she had won money. Sally was given a phone number to contact to find out how to claim her winnings. When she contacted the number, the ‘agent’ asked for some information including her personal details and various forms of ID, which she provided. Sally also bought $400 worth of gift cards at the request of the agent, and provided them with the card numbers. It was when the ‘agent’ started asking for more gift cards, that Sally realised she was being scammed by someone using her friend’s social media account.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au


Incident one

A 32-year-old man received an email offering a cure for the COVID-19 virus. The email contained a link that would, supposedly, take the user to a website selling a new product that cured and prevented falling ill with the Novel Corona virus. The website prompted the user to supply personal details, including full name and credit card details. The man realised that this information was valuable and fortunately did not fall for the phishing attempt.

Scammers are continuing to exploit the fear of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Common scams that are circulating relate to falsely advertising coronavirus-related remedies such as this one, and setting up fake fundraising initiatives. Members of the public need to be mindful that many of the fraudulent advert and product links are integrated into popular social media platforms. Emails claiming to be from legitimate health or fundraising organisations are also being used by scammers.

Incident two

A 52-year-old man, who lives within the bushfire affected areas of South Australia, received a phone call from someone claiming to be from a bank. The caller said the bank would like to give him money from the Disaster Relief Fund. To do this the bank needed their account details in order to electronically transfer the money to them. The man became suspicious and questioned the caller regarding specifics of the fund and the bank for which they claimed to represent. The caller was unable to provide adequate answers, so the victim hung up the phone. The victim rang his bank using a known number, to which they confirmed the phone call was a scam.

Incident three

No one is immune to ‘Phishing’ emails, not even the police. Along with numerous other businesses, SA Police recently received an email claiming to be from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. However, on closer inspection, there were several typical warning signs that the email was in fact a scam. Have a look at the suspicious email and some of the give away signs.

Incident four

"A better service than Netflix... and it's free for Australians!"?

No, it's not. An advertisement for MovieFlix has been doing the rounds on social media, but don't be fooled, it is actually an elaborate ploy to steal your credit card details.

The phishing scam leads users to a fake article that claims to have been shared and commented on by thousands of users, along with a still photo of an apparent news bulletin. The advertisement has been picked up by Western Australia’s Consumer Protection Department and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch team and identified as a scam.

Investment/jobs scams - Watch video

Incident one

In March 2021, Josh was browsing through his social media when he came across an advertisement for a Bitcoin investment opportunity. Only a couple of weeks prior, he had seen a segment on the news talking about the recent price rise and thought that he should give it a go.

The company’s website looked professional and even had a video testimonial from a high-profile celebrity. Josh was assisted by Customer Support using the in-chat popup on the website, and by downloading a remote access app on his phone, Customer Support could now log in directly to his device and help him create accounts. He checked the account regularly and could see that he was making decent returns on his small investment. Encouraged by this, he invested a larger sum of money, which also performed well. A couple of months later Josh tried to withdraw money from the account, but was unable to. He was provided several excuses as to why this was the case, before the company ultimately stopped responding to his requests and locked him out of his account.

It turns out that the company was fraudulent and that his investment was actually non-existent. From the get go, scammers had transferred the cryptocurrency straight to their own account and had no intention of paying out any money to Josh. Instead, they used fake graphs and fictitious account balances to make it appear that he was making money, when in fact he was not. Unfortunately, not only did Josh suffer a financial loss, but the identification that he used to set up the account was then also used to set up phone plans and apply for loans that he did not authorise.

Incident two

In May 2020, a 54-year-old female received a phone call from a superannuation agent, advising her that she was eligible to access some of her super through the Government’s early release scheme in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After confirming both her personal and account details, the agent advised her that he had successfully lodged the request for her. The female has since realised she was the victim of a scam and has had money stolen from her account. The scammers tried to withdraw additional funds but fortunately the transaction was prevented. The Government’s decision to allow early access to superannuation has helped many people through the COVID-19 crisis, however cybercriminals are taking advantage of the initiative by stealing South Australians’ Superannuation funds via the scheme.

Avoid giving out personal information over the phone, especially if you have been called out of the blue. If in doubt, hang up the phone and call the company back on a known, reputable contact number, such as one on their official website.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au

Watch our video on investment scams here.

Job scams

Incident one

Tom was looking for a job and found an advert for truck drivers on an online job searching website. The job was based out of Adelaide and appealed to Tom. He responded to the advert and received an email from what appeared to be the company he was interested in working for. They requested proof of identity and proof of residency in the form of a driver’s licence, Medicare card and/or passport and requested copies of these documents prior to his interview, which was scheduled for a week’s time. Tom attended his scheduled interview, only to be told by staff at the company that they had not advertised any positions and were unaware of the job advert. He was not the only hopeful applicant that attended for an interview.

Tom has since discovered that the ID he provided had been used to purchase several items in his name. He is currently working with his bank, companies and police to recover the costs and locate the scammers.

Incident two

Stephanie applied for a job advertised online as a virtual administrative assistant. She was advised that she was successful in winning the position and was provided with a Skype ID and a Bitcoin Wallet. Stephanie was asked to provide her personal bank account details, which she did. She was instructed that funds for the business would be deposited into her personal bank account, and her role was to transfer that money into the Bitcoin Wallet. Stephanie followed these instructions, believing it was her job to do so, but was never remunerated for her employment as promised. When she contacted the company to query it, she was advised she had been involved in money laundering and was threatened to keep doing what she had been doing, or they would expose what she had done to Australian authorities. Stephanie alerted police to the scam and was not prosecuted.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au

Business email compromise

RTD Paving sent out invoices to various customers requesting payment. They received notification that one of the invoices had been paid, but when they checked the business’ bank account, they found the payment did not appear on their statement. They contacted the customer to query the payment, to which the customer stated they had followed the email’s directions attached to the invoice. The email attached to the invoice directed the customer to pay the funds into the business’ ‘new account’. RTD Paving advised the customer they did not have a new account, and had not sent the described email. RTP Paving’s email exchange had been compromised, allowing scammers to intercept the email, modify the banking details that the customer received and direct them to pay the invoice into the scammers account instead.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au


Teddies4Kids is a large not-for-profit organisation. Last month, scammers were able to gain access to their servers by using software that tried various combinations of usernames and passwords, until a combination was successful. Once in, ransomware was installed, locking the organisation out from accessing all of their information and data across multiple States/Territories. Teddies4Kids were ordered to pay a ransom by the scammers to have their data decrypted, to which they refused to pay. The organisation lost a significant amount of its data as a result, which affected day to day operations.

To make a report visit cyber.gov.au

Find out more about how this scam works from scamwatch.gov.au

National scams and cybercrime threats

Get the latest Australia-wide information from:

Protect yourself

General advice from SA Police

Anyone can be targeted by scammers – so always be on the look out.

Scammers can be very convincing, so if something does not feel right, do not be pressured into making a decision on the spot. They will often use the tactic of short timeframes to prevent potential victims from taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.

Go to a source of truth – If you are not sure whether the person you are speaking to is who they say they are, hang up the phone and call back the agency using a phone number you know to be true i.e. from the phonebook.

Before you transfer money or share your bank details, discuss it with someone you trust or check cyber.gov.au to see if you are involved in a scam.

Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Secure your online devices and be safe

Secure your online devices such as your phone, tablet, computer and your information by following the handy tips on the staysmartonline website.

There are simple steps you can take as an individual, family and business to avoid becoming the next victim of an online scam.

Report it and get help

If you think you may have been a victim of an incident, report it immediately by visiting cyber.gov.au/report

You should also consider contacting your bank if you have shared your information or someone has accessed your account without permission.

Find out how to recover when things go wrong on the staysmartonline website.

If you are concerned that a loved one is continuing to send money to scammers despite family/friends' attempted interventions, you may want to consider making an Guardianship, Administration and Mental Health Application through the South Australian Civil Administrative Tribunal.

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Scams overview

Traditionally scams have been conducted via phone and mail, and while these are still prevalent, our reliance and use of new  technologies, such as the internet and email,  also presents scammers with additional opportunities to reach potential victims and obtain your personal information.

The evidence

The ACCC reports that Australians lost over $323 million to scams and made 286,602 scam reports in 2021.

Losses by scam type

Based on this combined data, the scams causing the most financial harm to Australians in 2021 were:

  • Investment Scams - $177 million.
  • Romance Scams - $56 million.
  • Business Email Compromise - $17 million.

Phone accounts for almost 48% of all contact methods employed by scammers, with email coming in second at 22%.

Payment methods

Whilst the highest reported losses are still experienced via bank transfers, over $50 million were lost via Bitcoin or ‘other payments’. These include cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, charges to phone bills, Neosurf vouchers and digital payment apps such as Zelle or Skrill.

Related information

cyber.gov.au – Australian Cyber Security Centre - provides advice to individuals, small to medium business, big business and critical infrastructure operators on how to stay safe online and links to relevant reporting portals.

scamwatch.gov.au - This site has information about current trends, comparative statistics and useful articles and other advice about scams affecting everyday Australians.