How Chinese Australians are targeted by coronavirus scammers with phone calls threatening arrest or deportation
- Fraudsters attacking the Chinese Australian community with coronavirus scams
- Scamwatch warns of a surge in scams that provide COVID-19 miracle drugs
- Vulnerable Chinese students said to hang on anyone who asked for personal information
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Chinese Australians are being targeted by telephone and email fraudsters. As of January 1, nearly 100 cases of coronavirus scams have been reported.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch division said fraudsters seek to obtain victims’ personal financial information by impersonating government officials and punishing them with extreme penalties if they refuse to comply.
Scamwatch warns that fake websites selling miracle drugs for COVID-19 are also emerging.
Fraudsters are targeting the Chinese Australian community with coronavirus scams as the fear of the virus increases
Sydney’s Chinatown (Photo March 24, 2020) has been abandoned following government announcement to close restaurants, bars and nonessential businesses
“It’s understandable that people want information about the pandemic, but they should be wary of emails or text messages claiming to be experts,” said Delia Rickard, vice chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in a statement .
“Unfortunately, scammers use the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, or coronavirus, to take advantage of people.”
In some cases, phishing scams are sent via text or email claiming to have essential information about the coronavirus, while in others, callers who speak Mandarin will threaten their victims over the phone and claim to be from the Chinese authorities, the World Health Authority or the Ministry of Health.
The scammer will tell their victims, mostly students, that they have been involved in criminal activity, and threaten them and even their families with criminal sanctions unless they pretend to have been kidnapped, including by taking photos of themselves tied and gagged Mrs. Rickard said.
“Scammers then use these photos to extort money from the student’s family by claiming that the student has been kidnapped.”
With approximately 900 cases of scams targeting the Chinese community across Australia in 2019, Scamwatch said fraudsters have taken in over $ 1.5 million from their victims.
Sydney’s Chinatown (pictured on March 24, 2020) remains a virtual ghost town with all nonessential travel banned in Australia from fighting the spread of the deadly coronavirus
A man (pictured on March 24, 2020) eats alone on an empty food court in Sydney’s Chinatown after the shutdown of all nonessential services was instituted to slow the spread of coronavirus disease
“The most important thing that members of the Chinese community in Australia can do to protect themselves from this scam is to be aware of how it works and warn their friends and family,” said Rickard.
“If you ever get a call from someone threatening arrest or deportation, it’s a scam. It is very frightening to receive these phone calls and scammers use your fear against you so that you send them money or join a fake kidnapping.
“Don’t fall for their threats. Instead, hang up the phone and report it to your local police. If you think the scammer has your bank account details, please contact your bank immediately. ‘
If you think you may have been a victim of scams, you should immediately contact your bank or financial institution and file a report with Scamwatch.