Members of the Chinese community are being warned not to respond to random calls claiming to be from authorities checking on a visa application, a package with fraudulent documents or a money laundering investigation.
Scamwatch has received nearly large numbers of reports about these scams recently with reported huge losses.
WA ScamNet has also received a number of reports about these calls also with reported financial losses.
The Chinese Embassy has issued a warning about the scam which involves victims getting a call claiming there was an issue with a non-existent visa application.
The calls are randomly targeting Australian numbers, but the victims hear a person speaking Mandarin when they answer the phone.
Those who responded to the calls or voicemails were told that the caller was from the Chinese embassy or consulate, and then they were supposedly put through to the 'International Criminal Police Organisation' in China or the Chinese police. This then leads to a request for funds to carry out a financial check with the victim told the money will be returned once the process is complete.
The Chinese Embassy’s warning confirms the calls eventually escalate to a request for money to be transferred.
Chinese parcel scam
A phone scammer posing as international shipping company DHL is calling random Australian numbers and playing a recorded message in Mandarin aimed at those in the Chinese community.
The message claims the recipient hasn’t signed for an important parcel and urges them to connect with a member of staff.
The scammers claim the parcel contains a number of passports under the victim’s name that have been linked to criminal activities in China. They then claim the victim has had their identity stolen and so transfers them to the “police” (usually based in China), who threaten arrest unless they do what they are told to clear their name.
After requesting bank account information, the scammers advise that funds need to be sent overseas to help the “police” confirm that the money was legitimately acquired.
If you receive such a message, just ignore it – do not follow the instructions provided nor call the number back.
The message can be heard here:
Translation to English: “This is DHL international delivery company, this is your final notice. You have one important parcel delivered and no one was available to sign for the parcel. For more information please press 9, please press 9, there will be a staff who can provide assistance.”
Blessing scam, ghost scam or ritual scam
Perth detectives are also warning about another scam targeting vulnerable elderly Chinese. It’s known as the Blessing Scam, Ghost Scam or Ritual Scam and relies on cultural and traditional beliefs to instil fear in the victims.
It usually takes place in a public area, when someone approaches a victim and tells them that their family desperately needs medical assistance or healers and requires Eastern medicine to heal them. Victims are tricked into supplying jewellery or high value items to be ‘treated in a ritual’, which are then switched for cheaper items.
Tips to protect yourself
- If you know people in the Chinese community please share this information with them and tell them how these scams work and to warn their friends and family.
- Be cautious if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from a government agency, company or business, who requests personal details or up-front payments.
- If you are in doubt about the authenticity of a call, don’t commit to anything. Instead hang up and call the company or government agency directly using their official customer service number to verify it is genuine.
- Never use contact details provided by the caller, instead find the number via an independent source such as an online search or a previous bill.
- Never confirm or provide personal details, credit card numbers or other account information over the phone unless you initiated the call and trust the other party.