Scamwatch: be alert, don't get scammed

Scamwatch: be alert, don't get scammed

Every year, thousands of Australians are targeted by scams, whether it be online, via phone, mail or even in person.

The Australian Community Media has compiled a list of current scams identified on, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's website dedicated to informing people about fraudulent and dishonest activities:

Investment seminars

  • Promoted by promising motivational speakers, investment experts, or self-made millionaires who will give you expert advice on investing.
  • Designed to convince you into following high risk investment strategies such as borrowing large sums of money to buy property, or investments that involve lending money on a no security basis or other risky terms.
  • Promoters make money by charging you an attendance fee, selling overpriced reports or books, and by selling investments and property without letting you get independent advice.
  • Investments on offer are generally overvalued and you may end up having to pay fees and commissions that the promoters did not tell you about.
  • High pressure sales tactics are often used, such as guaranteed rent or discounts for buying off the plan.

Fake pharmacies

  • Scammers will set up fake pharmacy websites designed to look like legitimate retailers.
  • Will offer health products, medicines and drugs at cheap prices or without the need for a prescription.
  • Prescription-only medicine requires a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional to have examined you. Most medicines have at least some side-effects and these can be very serious for some people. They can also have dangerous interactions with medicines you are already taking.
  • If you take up an offer, and pay the 'retailer', you may never receive the items you ordered. If you do receive the products that you order, there is no guarantee that they are the real thing. In some cases, the medicines or other products may even damage your health.

COVID-19 Scams

  • Scammers are adapting existing technology to play on people's fears around coronavirus and selling products claiming to prevent or cure the virus.
  • Phishing scams are sent via email or text message that claim to be providing official information on coronavirus but are attempts to try and obtain personal data.
  • Other scams include people receiving misinformation about cures for coronavirus and investment scams claiming coronavirus has created opportunities to make money.
  • Scammers are also impersonating official organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health or legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunications companies.
  • For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organization websites directly.