Members of Perth’s Chinese community have lost more than $175,000 so far this year to phone scams after they were threatened with arrest or deportation unless they paid fees.
There have been 17 reports from people who have been targeted by the scammers this year, with four victims claiming to have lost individual amounts of $30,000; $13,800; $71,500 and $60,000.
In the latest case, the victim received a phone call from scammers claiming to be from DHL International saying they had intercepted packages in her name that contained fake credit cards and identification cards. She had been expecting a package to be delivered so believed the call to be genuine.
She was supposedly transferred to Guangdong Police who told her that her name was linked to criminals and she had to pay money to have her identity verified, otherwise she could be arrested and deported back to China. After the initial call, they communicated via phone apps Let’s Talk and Whatsapp.
Other calls claim to be from the Chinese Embassy or Consulate saying there is a problem with the victim’s visa and they must pay fees to prevent their visa being cancelled.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said, notwithstanding the loss of substantial amounts of money, the victims have also provided criminals with a lot of personal information.
“Apart from demanding money, these criminals ask for copies of personal documents such as passports and driver’s licences, in order to verify their identity and also try to get bank account information,” Ms Chopping said.
“This provides the scammers with enough personal details and documents to carry out identity theft and perhaps apply for loans online in the victim’s name. If this is the case, victims should contact their bank as soon as possible to lodge a report.”
“Their threatening behaviour exploits people’s fear of authority and fear of being deported, forcing them to act out of panic rather than thinking about what they are doing.”
“Members of the Chinese and wider community should be aware of these scams to prevent any losses, so I ask them to spread the word amongst their family and friends. The scam calls will continue while they are successful in extorting funds from people so please stop and think before sending money to strangers who call out of the blue.”
For further information or to report a scam go to the WA ScamNet website www.scamnet.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.