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Phone Scam targeting Chinese Nationals in Australia by pretending to be from the Embassy RAKES IN MILLIONS $$$

IN RECENT months, you may have been confused by a voicemail left on your phone in Mandarin.

Whether you understand it or not, authorities have warned smartphone users to hang up immediately.

Police have warned of a phone scam targeting Chinese nationals in Australia by pretending to be from the embassy and demanding a large sum of money.

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“We have offenders contacting victims on the phone purporting to be from the Chinese Embassy, and saying victims either committed an offence or had their identity stolen. As a result, victims are asked to pay fines or a debt,” Financial Crimes Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett told a conference Wednesday afternoon.

“I want to stress that the Chinese Embassy would never contact a person to pay money over the phone.

“We’ve had incidents where the victim is threatened, or their family back in China is threatened.”

She said there have been cases where the victim didn’t have any money. In these cases, the victim was instructed to stage a kidnapping so they could get money overseas from their parents.

The scam has reaped in millions of dollars, targeting victims across Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. One victim alone in NSW had $1.9 million stolen.

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According to Det Supt Howlett, there have been at least 50 reports of this scam across NSW, with three calls this week alone.

But she said a lot of the victims still aren’t coming forward, urging people receiving the calls to hang up and notify the authorities.

Variations of this scam have been reported recently. In another one, an automated voice in Mandarin claiming to be calling on behalf of the Chinese Embassy tells the listener they had an important parcel to collect.

They are encouraged to press 9, at which point they are transferred to a scammer who tries to take their personal details.

China’s Deputy Consul-General in Sydney Tong Xuejun said more than 1000 cases had been reported since August last year.

“We have confirmed about 40 cases that caused a loss. The total amount of money involved is about $10 million,” he said, adding that the money lost ranged from $2000 to one case of $3.5 million.

In another fraud, the scammer tells the victim they are involved in a crime like money-laundering or embezzlement, and threatens them with jail or deportation unless they pay a hefty sum to get a “priority investigation” to clear their name.

They also try to extract sensitive information like passport numbers, bank details and addresses.

According to Scamwatch, if the money is sent to the scammer, it is likely lost and extremely difficult to recover.

Many non-Chinese people have reported getting the calls too, and being left confused.

The Chinese Consulate-General has urged Chinese citizens in Australia to be aware of fraudulent calls.

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Henry Sapiecha

He discovered amounts of $800 & $10,000 of his money had been transferred to another bank account via his phone

 $10,000 transfer theft via borrowed phone

A TEENAGER has been refused bail and committed to stand trial in Gladstone’s District Court Qld Australia over the alleged assault of a taxi driver and the attempted theft of more than $10,000 from his bank account.

The 18-year-old appeared in Gladstone Magistrates Court via video link from Capricornia Correctional Centre yesterday.

He wore an olive-green prisoner’s jumper and at times held his head in his hands as Sergeant Barry Stevens read out the allegations made against him

The court was told that shortly after 3am on January 20, the man and two co-accused – an 18-year-old and a 17-year-old – called a taxi driver to a house at Barney Point.

Police allege that the man, who knew the taxi driver, asked to borrow his phone as they waited to leave the house.

One of the co-accused then left saying he was going to the bathroom, according to police, and the phone was not returned to the driver until the teenager came back.

When the driver checked his phone, Sgt Stevens said he discovered amounts of $800 and $10,000 had been transferred deceptively to an unfamiliar bank account.

He challenged the teenagers over the money transfers before he was “set upon by all three”, Sgt Stevens told the court.

The teenagers allegedly repeatedly punched the man in the face and torso and bashed him with a brick, before stealing his mobile phone and a gold chain.

When the driver managed to escape the house and get to his car, police said the teens continued to attack the car, damaging it. The taxi driver suffered a fractured jaw.

The three teenagers were later found by the police dog squad at a nearby house.

Acting magistrate Neil Lavaring noted the man had already spent 125 days in custody and it could be months until he faced trial.

But he refused to allow bail on the basis the man posed an unacceptable risk of re-offending.

He did not enter a plea before the committal.

www.crimefiles.net

www.intelagencies.com

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Henry Sapiecha

How to avoid the international money transfer rip off

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Transferring money overseas is costing Australians big bucks, with the latest figures from the World Bank showing Australia is the fourth most expensive country in the world for international money transfers, behind South Africa, Japan and France.

With the launch of Mozo’s international money transfer hub, our money geeks crunched the numbers and found using a big bank to transfer $10,000 from Australian dollars to New Zealand dollars, could be more than the price of a return flight to Auckland.

Mozo director Kirsty Lamont advised Aussies looking to transfer money overseas to do their research on exchange rates and fees in advance to avoid being “ripped off.”

“It’s very easy to think only major banks facilitate international money transfers, but there are a growing number of online money transfer providers in Australia which are very willing to compete, especially on price.”

Mozo discovered the cheapest rates in Australia were generally from online providers, such as OzForex, HiFX, Currency Fair, Worldfirst and TorFX.

“In fact, we found online money transfer providers are on average 5c cheaper per dollar transferred than the big four banks. When you’re transferring thousands of dollars, that difference adds up to hundreds of dollars in savings,” said Lamont.

Looking to transfer money to a loved one abroad or for your stint in a foreign country?

Search Mozo’s foreign exchange hub here to compare exchange rates and fees from nine providers across 11 currencies with rates updated every 15 minutes.

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Henry Sapiecha

Email CEO scams costs companies $2bn

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Scams  where criminals impersonate the email accounts of chief executives have cost businesses globally  more than $2bn in around two years, says the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI has seen a sharp increase in “business email crime,” a simple scam that is also known as “CEO fraud”, with more than 12,000 victims affected internationally

In this scam, a criminal mimics a chief executive’s email account and directs an employee to wire money to an overseas bank account. By the time the company sees it has been duped, the money has vanished.

The average loss is $120,000 but some companies have been tricked into sending as much as $90m to offshore accounts, US authorities say.

Reports of CEO fraud are on the increase. Between October 2013 and August 2015, about $1.2bn globally was lost to the scheme, the FBI said, but that loss increased by another $800m in the past six months. US authorities have traced the money involved to 108 countries.

“Criminals don’t have borders and this is a global problem,” said James Barnacle, chief of the FBI’s money laundering unit. “We’re working with our criminal investigation resources, our cyber resources, our international operations divisions — which is all our legal attachés overseas — and we’re working with foreign partners around the world to try to tackle this crime problem.”

The rise in reported CEO frauds can be partly attributed to companies detecting the crime, but it also reflects the simple nature of the scheme that can be run from anywhere around the globe.

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“It’s easy. All you need is a computer,” Mr Barnacle said.

Most of the offshore bank accounts in which the money ends up are located in Asia or Africa, where it can be harder for the US to gain the assistance of local authorities.

The FBI has seen similarities between different CEO fraud schemes but it is not clear if there is one dominant global ring.

“We’re putting more resource to it. We’re trying to find those patterns,” Mr Barnacle said.

The FBI advises companies to be more guarded with their information even if it means taking additional steps that are not cost-effective, such as making a phone call to the executive to confirm the transfer.

The crime has hit very large companies and small ones. Most recently, there have been new reports in the US of criminals targeting real estate firms to steal closing fees on housing sales. Some companies have been asked by imposters to email employee wage and tax statements.

Last year police from Italy, Spain and other European countries arrested more than 60 members of an alleged criminal group, including several Nigerians, for their role in an email fraud scheme that affected hundreds of individuals and tens of companies.

Still, few cases have been made, reflecting the challenges of combating international cyber crimes.

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Henry Sapiecha