How Scammers Are Increasingly Targeting Latin Americans Living In Australia

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Over Analysing

American students studying in Australia are also cautioned about agency scams, in which con artists pretend to be agents for Australian universities or institutions. Scammers will present false academic transcripts and demand enormous quantities of money in exchange for their services.

Have you heard that the Australian government recently became aware of a rash of scams targeting Americans by making fictitious promises of jobs and visas to Australia? Criminal groups behind these schemes aim to defraud you out of your money. Both a job and a visa are unavailable. Insane! 

Apart from this, SBS Spanish received an enormous response from Latin Americans claiming they had been the target of the new scam as part of a special investigation. Among other Latin American nations, people from Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Honduras claimed that their social media personas had been “cloned.”

However, Latin American citizens are particularly hurt by the scam since social media is such a crucial tool for them to communicate with loved ones abroad, exchange photos, and share personal narratives.

Nevertheless, this seemingly harmless method of sharing personal information is getting many people into massive trouble. Let’s see how! 

If you’re a victim of a similar scam please get in touch with us to that we can help you get your money back!

How The Scam Works

Scams are becoming more common to target Latin Americans living in Australia by “cloning” or impersonating their social media identities

Initially, criminals make a phony profile that looks exactly like the target’s actual profile. In order to properly imitate the individual, they gather every piece of material from social networks like Facebook that could lend credibility to the bogus profile, including pictures, videos, and personal information.

online conference

Cases & More

César*, a victim of the scam from Colombia, claimed that the con artists had copied over his films in addition to using his photos, job description, and corporate information on the “cloned” page. 

It is known that scammers are more likely to succeed in their goal of writing to relatives and friends from the “cloned” profile and winning their trust if the profile is more trustworthy. The deception can then take money from victims, such as telling them they need to pay for a shipment of goods, find misplaced luggage, or buy an airline ticket right away. 

Here, as soon as the fraudster gained the trust of one of the families back in Latin America, they requested their personal information (such as an address, mobile phone, and email). They assured them that the shipping business or airline would contact them personally.

Remember, scammers frequently use recognizable company names, including FedEx, Avianca, or Aeromexico, and they may even email their victims’ fraudulent transaction documentation. In this case, too, someone acted as an official company, and SBS Spanish recorded one such conversation with one of the scammers, unaware he was being taped. The conversation was as follows; 

“I realize that the gentleman’s shipment is a ‘premium’ shipment, worth a high amount and valued at 70 million Colombian pesos in premier merchandise such as laptops, iPhone phones of the latest range, watches, perfumery, clothing, among other things, OK?” says the false airline official.

“The reason for my call is to indicate that the shipment is overweight by 10 kilograms from the Colombian country. This results in a fine of $270 that must be paid by a Western Union or Money Grant, and that must be directed to the main branch of the airline.”

The scammer then asked for the payment of the money and, for the victim’s “peace of mind”, said goodbye and formally identified himself at the end of the call.

In other cases, a family member is persuaded of the necessity of a situation and starts the money consignment process immediately. Scammers threaten to have the cargo returned or seized by police if individuals don’t submit the requested money.

Maria Ignacia, a Chilean, told SBS Spanish that while she was sleeping in Australia, con artists used a fake WhatsApp account with her photo and identity to contact her mother in Chile and bring some terrible news.

They wrote: “Mummy, how are you? I’m talking to you from another number because I had to change it. I’ve broken up with my partner, and I’m coming back to Chile to see you; I’m not well.”

María said her mother immediately called her back, “heartbroken and crying,” asking her if she was fine, to which María answered: “Mum, I am fine; I have had no problems since we spoke yesterday.” Horrible!

However, luckily, both César and Mara were alert enough to recognize that something odd was happening, so no family members sent any money. Thank God!

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    Latin American Students, Be aware! 

    American students studying in Australia are also cautioned about agency scams, in which con artists pretend to be agents for Australian universities or institutions. Scammers will present false academic transcripts and demand enormous quantities of money in exchange for their services.

    Also, Discount schemes, in which students are promised discounts on tuition or lodging but must transfer substantial sums of money to acquire them, are another type of fraud.

    Virtual kidnappings, in which the imposter accuses their victims, typically students, of criminal conduct, are another fraud that targets international students.

    Suppose the victim and their family don’t act like they’ve been abducted, especially by taking pictures of themselves bound and gagged. In that case, they will threaten the victim and their family with criminal charges. Then, con artists will use these pictures to demand money from the student’s family by claiming the pupil has been abducted. How scary!

    Girl on a laptop

    How To Avoid Becoming a Victim

    Examining profiles to see how much personal information is publicly accessible is an essential precaution people might take to protect themselves against scammers. For example;

    • Your social media accounts should have their privacy settings set to “private.”
    • Never accept a friend request from a total stranger.
    • Reduce the amount of information you post on your profile (workplace, family, friends).
    • Never send personal information via text or chat. Always visit the business’ website or give them a call.
    • And finally, it is advised that callers be questioned for information that only a close friend or relative would know if in doubt. Instead, start a video call.

    Best Of Luck in Australia, Latin Americans!  

    Sources

    Report a Correction or Typo

    We is committed to upholding the journalistic standards online, including accuracy. We report news related to scams and we aim to be accurate in our reporting. Our policy is to review each issue on a case by case basis. Upon becoming aware of any potential error or need for clarification, we try act on it as quickly as possible. Please notify us first so that we can resolve the issue.

    Lost money to online fraud? We will recover your funds !

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      We only process cases of more than $5000

      We do understand that you’ve already been scammed online and that you’re naturally afraid of paying online. This is why we do offer a free case review, and won’t charge anything if your case isn’t qualified. Please do your part of the deal, and submit your case only if you truly intend to proceed with the recovery process.


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