A conman posing as an Australian Federal Police officer robbed an international student in Melbourne of A$38,000 – her entire life savings.
On 16 August, a man pretending to be a police officer contacted the 27-year-old woman by phone and told her that:
- she had a number of unpaid credit card debts, and
- if she did not pay it could affect her visa status.
The call was transferred several times and the student stayed on the line. Eventually a female voice told her to withdraw $20,000 in cash and take the money to Princes Gardens in Prahran, a suburb of Melbourne, where she would be met by an AFP officer.
Princes Gardens, Prahran – the meeting place chosen by the scammers
The student went to the park and found the scammer – posing as a fake police officer – waiting. She handed him $20,000 in cash. He then told her she owed another $20,000. She told the fake police officer that she only had $18,300 left in her account. He told her to withdraw $18,000, which she did, and gave it to him.
Later the student realised she had been scammed and reported the matter to Victoria Police, who are investigating. The suspect is described as Indian in appearance, about 178 centimetres tall, and thin with a beard.
Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling, from the Australian Federal Police, said police officers in Australia would never ask for money transfers, Bitcoin or online vouchers.
Scammers take advantage of people’s trusting nature and fear of doing the wrong thing when in many cases it is their first time dealing with authorities. Victims can feel an array of emotions – from helplessness and humiliation to anger and guilt – but it is important to know you are not to blame and help is available.
We are urging anyone who falls victim and suffers a financial loss to report the incident to their financial institution and to local police in the first instance. In some circumstances, banks or authorities can help have funds returned.
Help yourself – don’t get scammed!
As an international student, the best way to protect yourself from scams is to ensure you understand the risks and warning signs.
Stay safe – by taking the free course on ‘Scams Targeting International Students‘ today.
It could save you a lot of money and stress.
Source: The Age