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Alert over $1800 ‘clickbait’ scam

Written by on May 22, 2024

Australians have been alerted to a rise in a new scam that offers fake bonus Centrelink payments in a bid to drive up web traffic and steal vulnerable users’ personal information.

Services Australia said millions of customers are being targeted by fake social media posts and websites promising a new ‘one-off’ or ‘bonus’ government payments.

One example released by the agency, which has circulated online in the months leading up to last week’s budget, contains a false graphic offering aged pensioners $1800 ‘extra’ to their fortnightly payments.

In a warning issued on Monday, Services Australia said users are being lured to click on fake links that then direct them to a scam web page designed to steal their sensitive data.

“They’re currently targeting older Australians by falsely saying there’s a bonus payment coming for people on Age Pension,” an online statement read.

“If you visit one of these websites or click their links, it may take you to an unsafe scam web page designed to steal your personal information.”

A spokesman from Services Australia said the agency became aware of the new social media scam about two months ago and have since recorded an increase in reports over the past few weeks.

Australians reported $95m in financial losses from social media scams last year, according to data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with almost half occurring on the messaging platform WhatsApp, and one in five on Facebook.

Older people are being increasingly targeted by scammers, with people over 65 losing $120m in 2023 alone, an increase of 13 per cent on the year before.

The government allocated $67.5m additional funding to its newly established Anti-Scam Centre in last week’s federal budget.

A large portion of that funding will go towards developing new industry codes that could fine social media companies, banks, and telcos that fail to effectively respond and report to scams on their platforms.

Legislation is expected to be introduced this year.

A new report released today by the ACCC showed scam losses reported between January and March this year have declined by 11 per cent compared to the previous quarter.