Tricks used in scams
Tricks and traps of scammers
Scammers use clever tricks to reel you in and get you to reply
to their email or not hang up the phone. Most scams seem like
genuine offers but they are carefully designed to trick you into
giving away your money or your personal details.
Here we break down some of the scamming tricks used so you are
aware of them and on guard.
How scammers trick you
Psychological tricks to make you feel obligated
A common trick is to use persuasive psychological tactics
to make you part with your money. Some may offer a free gift or
assistance to make you feel obliged to return the favour. Remember,
you do not owe them anything so don't be pressured into giving them
something in return.
It's hard to say no to friends
Scammers know that if they develop a friendly relationship with
you, you will be more likely to listen to them and go along with
whatever they suggest. Some join groups of people in churches or
community groups and gain their trust. While the investment or
offer appears to be going well, they can recruit new victims on the
testimony of other people who are already in the scheme.
Scammers may threaten you
You may be contacted by someone pretending to be from a
well-known organisation or government department who tries to scare
you into parting with your personal information or money. They may
threaten you with a fine, or say they will disconnect your
internet, take you to court, arrest or even deport you.
Don't be pressured by a threatening caller. Instead, just hang
up and check whether their story is real by contacting the
organisation using their contact details through an independent
source, like a phone book or online search. Don't use the contact
details the caller gives you, or that they include in their
Scammers claim to be professionals
Scammers will say they are approved or associated with another
reputable organisation or government agency to convince you of
their legitimacy. They hope that, because you have heard of these
organisations, you will trust them. They might also say they are a
professional broker, portfolio manager or investment
dealer. Even if they sound professional and have slick brochures
and documents to send you, they are working to a carefully crafted
See our fake regulators and
exchanges webpage for more information.
Warning: Scammers impersonating ASIC
ASIC has warned it's Registry customers to be wary of scam
emails that contain attachments or links to fake invoices. Read the
Persistent phone calls, text messages or emails
Scammers can call you endlessly or try to keep you on the phone
for a long time. They present you with promises of wealth or
opportunities lost if you don't take up the offer. They will not
take no for an answer and might ask you about your worries to
reassure you. As long as they can keep you talking, you haven't
Don't respond to texts or emails that ask you to click on a
link, download an attachment or ask you to provide personal
information (like account numbers or personal details). Attachments
and links may contain a virus and infect your computer with
Incredible offers of easy money
Scammers are clever at offering you incredible deals that
promise great returns with very little or no risk. But if it seems too good to be
true, it often is. See investment warnings for details on
schemes that may not be very good value for money.
Many scammers create professional-looking websites to prove to
you that their product is real and worth the money they want you to
pay. They can also send links to these websites in fraudulent
emails which look like they're from your bank or another business
you may deal with asking you to give up personal information.
Find out more about how fake websites work in investment
Fake social media profiles
Scammers will create fake profiles using information they have
stolen or made up. They may send you a friend request or message,
then ask for money to help them with trouble they are having. They
may know personal details of your friends if they have hacked their
accounts and, if you accept their friend request, they could gain
access to your personal information and steal your identity.
fraud for more information on how to protect yourself.
What scammers want you to do
Respond to them
Scammers will often approach a large number of people through
email, phone calls, and text messages in the hope of receiving a
response. A response could be as simple as answering the phone,
responding to their text or clicking on an email link they send
you. It's important to be cautious of who calls, texts or emails
you. It will often be someone you don't know, but it could also be
someone pretending to be a person whose name you
Beware of unusual payment methods
Scammers may ask you to pay a fine or bill by unusual methods
like gift or store cards, iTunes cards, wire transfers or
No government agency or trusted business will ever ask you to
pay by these methods.
Commit to something early
Scammers will get you to commit to something early in the
discussion so they can use it to get you to agree to something else
later. They do this to make you feel uneasy and defend your
original actions. You need to tell them that just because you
agreed to something earlier doesn't mean you can't change your mind
about it later.
Make a fast decision
Scammers often use the terms 'last chance' or 'limited offer' to
make you act fast. They don't want to give you any time to check if
their offer is real before you commit to it.
If you're being pressured to act fast, don't. Being rushed into
a decision is one of the biggest indicators that you're being
How to protect yourself from
For tips on how to protect yourself, see our pages on avoiding scams
and protecting yourself
from online scams.
Video: Kate gets scammed
Kate gets scammed video
Kate learns that not all sites can be trusted. Watch this video
to see how Kate learns to recognise friendly websites.
For more detailed information on the
psychological tricks used in scams, go to how scams work on the ACCC's SCAMwatch website.
Last updated: 18 May 2018