ACCC warns of surge in double-dipping scammers this year

Scammers money recovery

The ACCC-led National Anti-Scam Centre has cautioned previous victims of financial scams to be on the lookout for scammers promising to help recover lost funds.

The National Anti-Scam Centre recorded a 129 per cent increase in the number of reported money recovery scams between December 2023 and May 2024 compared to the previous six months.

Scamwatch received 158 reports of money recovery scams with losses totalling over $2.9 million, which includes losses from the original scam. Despite the substantial increase in total scam numbers, financial losses decreased by 29 per cent from the $4.1 million recorded six months earlier.

Money recovery scams involve fraudsters posing as trusted parties, including government agencies, lawyers, or even charities promising to help previous victims of scams recover their money.

The ACCC said it is also aware of criminals posing as victims themselves to their targets, and claiming that a specific person or entity helped them get their money back.

The consumer watchdog notes that scammers often request an up-front fee to recover their funds.

In nearly all cases, money originally lost to a scammer is next to impossible to recover, with funds often promptly transferred by criminals to offshore accounts. “[Even] legitimate scam investigation services are rarely able to recover money for scam victims,” the ACCC said.

Victims have also been identified acting on money recovery advertisements, proactively and unknowingly contacting these criminals to engage in their fake services.

ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe confirmed that the National Anti-Scam Centre has referred two websites used in recovery scams for takedown action, with so far one having been successfully removed.

She said: “Money recovery scams are damaging and cruel. Criminals prey on people who have already been victims of a scam who hope to get their money back.

“They are another example of scammers’ willingness to exploit people’s desperation at a vulnerable moment.”

“We are very concerned about revictimisation which can compound both the financial and emotional harm caused by scams.

“For example, we know of a person who was the target of multiple scams in succession. What began as a romance baiting investment scam was followed by a money recovery scam, which led to a remote access scam, and finally identity theft,” Lowe said.

The National Anti-Scam Centre encourages victims to report these scams directly to police and contact their financial institution.