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National Identity Fraud Awareness Week

(25 October 2012)

The second week in October was National Identity Fraud Awareness Week.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Fraud Survey 2010-11, Australians lost $1.4 billion due to personal fraud, which includes credit card fraud, identity theft and scams.

More alarmingly, the survey estimated a total of 1.2 million Australians aged 15 years and over were victim of at least one incident of personal fraud.

International research also indicates that identity crime is the fastest growing crime type with some studies indicating growth of up to 10 per cent.

Both individuals and businesses are at risk of identity theft. By practicing sound identity security habits and implementing a few personal and organisational security measures, identity fraud offending can be fought. Simple changes in personal behaviour can make a difference to identity security.

Individuals can learn more about how to protect themselves from identity fraudsters and scammers by taking the AFP's identity fraud survey

For more information see the following links:


Consumer Alert – Warning about recent SMS spam

(27 July 2012)

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is warning consumers about SMS messages that are being sent to Australians making death threats or suggesting that they have won a competition or prize.

Further information is available on the acma website.


Hitman SMS Currently in Circulation

(23 July 2012)

Police around the country have been receiving reports today (Monday, 23 July 2012), concerning an unsolicited SMS text message threatening the death of the recipient.

The SMS states:

“Sum1 paid me to kill you. get spared, 48hrs to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised E-mail me now: killerking247@yahoo.com”

Tasmania Police would like to advise any recipients that the message is a hoax/scam. Hoax hitman threats similar to this have been circulating on-and-off, by both email and SMS, for many years.

There have been numerous reports to Tasmania Police today (Monday, 23 July 2012), both at police stations and via the Police Assistance Line 131 444.

Anyone receiving the message should simply delete it.

Similarly, the best course of action to take on the receipt of any unsolicited email is to delete the message without opening it (as some emails can contain malicious software designed to infect computers).

Further information regarding how to deal with unsolicited email is available on the Australian Communication & Media Authority’s website.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission also operates the ScamWatch website, which provides further information on Internet scams and safety.


Facebook Complaints Information

(19 July 2012)

Tasmania Police is increasingly receiving complaints from members of the public regarding material posted on social media sites, and particularly Facebook.  We would like to take the opportunity to provide advice on how to report such matters to Facebook, as police are often unable to assist.

Content complaints should generally be made to the service hosting the content. In the case of Facebook, much of the content will be accompanied by a 'Report abuse' link. Members of the public can use these links to report the offending content directly to Facebook. Alternatively complaints can be made by going to the Facebook ‘Report Abuse or Policy Violations’ page.  

Facebook advises that they have hundreds of employees, in multiple locations throughout the world, to provide a 24/7 response capability to complaints made through these channels.  According to Facebook, abuse complaints are normally handled within 72 hours, and the teams are capable of providing support in up to 24 different languages.

We are providing this advice as many people have an incorrect assumption that offensive online posts are criminal. However, the use of technology to undertake some conduct does not in itself create an offence. That is, if the conduct complained of would not amount to an offence if it occurred off-line, then it is not an offence simply because in a particular instance it was undertaken with the aid of digital technology.

“For example, complaints have been received about comments posted on Facebook which are unwanted, annoying or obnoxious.  If this behaviour occurred in a public place it would not be something we would investigate or prosecute,” said Acting Inspector Luke Manhood.

This does not mean there is nothing that can be done about such behaviour, just that the police are not the appropriate avenue to report it.

“It is not the role of Tasmania Police to censor Internet content. Police are only able to take action to remove content where the content itself is in breach of the criminal law, for example child exploitation images, and are only able to take prosecution action where the conduct is in breach of the criminal law,” said Acting Inspector Manhood.

In the case of unwanted contact, that will only be in serious instances; usually where the behaviour can objectively be assessed as likely to cause the recipient to be fearful, or where it is assessed that intervention is required to prevent a situation escalating to violence.

“Matters involving threats to physical safety should always be reported to police, while less serious complaints should usually be directed to the content host in the first instance,” said Acting Inspector Manhood.

More information on what happens after a report is made to Facebook is available on the Facebook ‘What Happens After You Click Report’ page.


Serious and Organised Investment Fraud

(9 July 2012)

Organised crime groups are targeting the retirement savings of elderly Australians with sophisticated fraud operations.

Typically based overseas, the fraudsters are attracted to Australia’s large and growing pool of superannuation which currently stands at more than $1.3 trillion.

The criminals usually initiate contact over the phone before using an array of persuasive techniques to build trust with victims before enticing them to transfer funds into bogus investments offshore. These techniques include slick websites and brochures, professional-looking media releases and even personal accounts with logins that show strong returns on investment over a period of time.

Both experienced and inexperienced investors are being targeted.  Authorities confirm that more than 2,600 mainly elderly Australians have fallen victim to the fraud (as at June 2012). The average individual loss is $42,348, with losses ranging from $35,000 to $4 million.

Reported victims include some 880 registered Australian companies and 51 self-managed superannuation funds.

To combat the growing threat from this fraud, the Australian Crime Commission Board has established a high-level taskforce involving key Government agencies and police bodies.

To date, confirmed losses nationally stand at $113 million.  However, it is believed the extent of the fraud is greater because of the high proportion of victims who are unwilling or too embarrassed to report their loss.  Some of the victims have only come to the attention of police after investigation linked their bank transactions with fraud operations.

While anyone with savings to invest is at risk, many victims include financially-literate males over 50 years-old who have invested previously.  It is understood that the criminals actively target these individuals, particularly those who are socially isolated and thought more receptive to ongoing phone contact.

For more information, visit www.moneysmart.gov.au or call 1300 300 630.

Protect yourself against investment fraud

  • Visit www.moneysmart.gov.auor call 1300 300 630 for further information.
  • Alert your family and friends to this fraud, especially anyone who may have savings to invest.
  • Report suspected fraud to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission by visiting www.moneysmart.gov.au, calling 1300 300 630, or speak to your local police. Any information such as company name, location and contact details will assist with subsequent investigations.
  • Hang up on unsolicited telephone calls offering overseas investments.
  • Check any company you are discussing investments with has a valid Australian Financial Services Licence at www.moneysmart.gov.au
  • Always seek independent financial advice before making an investment.