- Kimberley flood victims being targeted by fake offers of financial relief from scammers
- Bogus charities popping up on social media to steal funds from intended recipients
- People urged to be on high alert and not respond impulsively to random messages
People in flood-affected communities in the Kimberley are being warned by the McGowan Government to be on high alert as social media scams promising relief money are targeting flood victims.
In the latest scam, Facebook messages using the image of a Serbian politician and containing a link to a phony Facebook page of an "agent" are promising victims $20,000 in relief funding, but are intended to steal personal information. Eventually the scammers will request fees be paid upfront to receive the funds.
To look genuine, the messages appear to come from a friend who is encouraging the target to contact the "agent" because they and others have already received the relief payment.
There have also been reports of social media commentary about relief funding from the 'Australian Flooding Agency', but this agency does not exist.
Donors to flood victims are also urged to be vigilant as fake charities are being set up to steal money from the intended recipients. A fake Instagram account posing as a legitimate registered charity in Fitzroy Crossing is asking donors to buy Amazon E-Gift Cards.
The best way to avoid being scammed is to only donate to licensed charities or official fundraisers like the Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund, to ensure the donated money goes to the intended cause. A list of licensed charities in Western Australia can be found at https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/list-licensed-charities
If consumers believe they have lost money to a scam or become aware of one, report it to WA ScamNet online at https://www.scamnet.wa.gov.au/scamnet/Home.htm or call 1300 30 40 54.
Comments attributed to Commerce Minister Sue Ellery:
"We strongly advise people in flood-affected areas to be extremely careful, and not click on links or give out personal information such as bank details in response to random messages received via text or social media.
"It is unbelievable that criminals have sought to exploit vulnerable people at a time when many of them have lost everything.
"The McGowan Government urges Western Australians who receive these messages to stop and think before reacting - no matter how genuine or enticing the offer may seem.
"Please take time to verify that the offer is real, seek advice from authorities or at least discuss the approach with family and friends before giving out any information or sending money."
Minister's office - 6552 5700