Scams

Reporter: Paul Makin

"Tens of billions of dollars per year is lost globally to mass marketing fraud" says Jim Jeffrey. You can easily write this off as a mugs game."I get a little bit cranky when I hear these victims called stupid and greedy because I can tell you they are not stupid people ... they are not greedy people" "And just Australia alone for the one investigation we've been running, $53 million has been identified" says Jim Jeffery.

While we may all be familiar with the bogus lottery bonanza that lands in our letter box promising riches, what we are looking at here is vastly more devious and lucrative.Innocent enough but the start of an audacious money grab. "30 year old from Victoria, accountant, lost two million, $1.2 million of that in one hit."

Sounds incredible but the victims can be the most savvy of people, like successful retired Adelaide businessman David.

David was offered a lucrative investment in a water treatment scheme. Even put in contact with a local agent, who'd also been hoodwinked."And the story was it was going into China and would have rights in China and other parts of Asia" says David.

David's investment was $40,000.

"It was a straight forward bank transfer from my bank to a bank in ah, I forget. It was Shanghai where it was at that particular time."

But that $40,000 blew out to $170,000 as the crooks kept him dangling on the line, promising massive profits.

"They'd have perhaps some more shares at a discount or they had another company that was into a new technology and they had all the contacts to make it go quickly and they would spin a very good story" explains David.

"They got to know me very well over the years and they use a lot of Christianity sayings and things like that" says Jill.

Jill from Brisbane on the other hand was specifically targeted as an interior designer, offered government contracts in Nigeria.

"Just assist in consultancy work and renovate hospitals."

So convinced it was genuine she agreed to meet with the fraudster overseas. It reads like a movie script.

"They contacted me and said I had to go to Amsterdam and I only had a week to do it and I had to take $26,000 with me and that was very difficult, putting that together cause it had to be cash but I did meet a gentleman in Amsterdam in this deserted warehouse where I was shown the 9, 11 million dollars US in cash in a big container" says Jill.

It wasn't until she'd handed over $300,000 that she realised it was all a con."Travelling blind, I was very aware that I was in an area that was very sus but I believed I was doing the right thing" says Jill.Detective Superintendent Brian Hay from Queensland police is an expert in fraud, corporate crime and the Nigerian scams which are spreading their tentacles world wide.

"Its wrong of us just to think of one country, the Nigerian network is a global existing phenomenon. It's organised crime at the global level" says Detective Superintendent Hay.That's why today Australian authorities are involved in the international mass marketing fraud global day of action. "In Australia more than half of the 20,000 scams that were reported to the ACCC last year were mass marketed scams" says Peter Kell.

Peter Kell from the ACCC wants it known that the war has begun between the bad guys and the good guys - and the good guys intend to win."Law enforcement agencies around the world want to highlight this issue warn consumers and also put the scammers on notice that we'll be after them" adds Peter.

And some of those raids will be in Hong Kong where there's a highly organized gang of internet scammers according to Detective Superintendent Jim Jeffery from the South Australian police.We've had the assistance from Hong Kong police investigating some offenders we believe have been committing offences mass marketing offences against not only South Australians but Australians" says Jim. And the head of the Commercial and Electronic Crime Branch says the counterfeit websites used by scammers are now just like the real thing.

Authorities are appealing to people like David and Jill to set aside their embarrassment and come forward to tell their stories."I say come forward and come forward fairly promptly so that we can have a thorough look as we can to try and track down the source of the offending" says Jim. What the authorities don't know is what happens to the billions raised. Could they used to fund the drug trade or even international terrorism. Whatever the purpose the people behind them are pure evil.

Meanwhile there could be a very simple solution when it comes to beating the scammers;"What we do find with dealing with a lot of scam victims is that they say after the event, I had a gut feeling about that that it wasn't right. I suggest people do actually follow their gut feelings because if they follow their gut feelings most of the time, they'll prevent themselves from being scammed" advises Jim.

To get information on the latest scams go to the ACCC's Scamwatch site: www.scamwatch.gov.au