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Aussies lose $1b to scammers

March 9, 2011
Scammers want your cash.Scammers want your cash. 

How can we protect people from their own gullibility?

The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce has declared this week National Consumer Fraud Week, in an effort to raise awareness about online scams which cost Australians $1 billion last year. If you’d like us to mail you a Scamwatch information pack, to help protect you against cybercriminals, just send us your home address along with your banking details and a copy of your passport. Allow six to eight weeks for shipping – by which time I’ll be living it up in South America, charging luxury hotels and other good times to your credit card.

Okay, that was a cheap shot – but someone must be that gullible if Australians keep losing more and more money every year to online scams. It’s got very little to do with technology, it’s mostly about common sense. You didn’t win a lottery you never entered. No-one needs your help to smuggle gold out of Africa. Your bank will never ask you for your password. You can’t make a small fortune by quitting your job and working from home.

They’re the same old scams, just delivered via a new medium. We spend so much time in schools teaching our kids about online stranger danger, perhaps we should be sending the kids home to teach their parents and grand parents about this stuff. If nothing else, the kids might be able to scam their parents for a few bucks or maybe blackmail them over the contents of their browsing history.

Of course I’m preaching to the choir here. If you’re reading a tech blog you probably already know this stuff, but obviously a lot of people don’t. The mainstream media is full of reports about online scams, but don’t assume all your family and friends are smart enough not to fall for them. Make it your goal this week to strike up a conversation about scams with a few of your non-tech savvy friends, in an effort to save them from their own gullibility. Next time they ask you for tech support, throw in a 30 second lecture on online fraud.

If they won’t listen, I’m happy to sell them my extensive Scamwatch information pack for just 10 easy payments of $99.99.


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