The Unexpected Ways that Australians are Handing the Keys to their Intellectual Property to Scammers

With the rise of social media and an increasingly interconnected world, the internet has become a double-edged sword, offering countless opportunities for communication, commerce, and information sharing, but also providing fertile ground for scammers to exploit unsuspecting victims.

Australia, like many other countries, is no stranger to the scourge of online scams, but what’s surprising is the array of unexpected ways in which Australians are falling victim to these malicious actors – and how they are unknowingly feeding the beast.

Close to 75 per cent of scams are carried out by information the victims have supplied to the scammer themselves. And as platforms such as Instagram and TikTok explode in popularity, more and more people (primarily young adults) are pretty well handing the keys to their intellectual property over to scammers by unknowingly revealing personal information.

Many Instagram users are doing the exact same thing – with people flashing their overseas holidays and giving scammers a clear view into the fact that they aren’t at home or even in their home country.

The tactics employed by scammers are evolving and with the rise of AI – this will only make it harder for individuals to spot the warning signs. I’m going to discuss the ways Australians are being targeted that you have probably never thought of and what we can do to protect ourselves from falling into these deceptive traps now and into 2024.

TikTok & Take

As the algorithm favours people getting more personal on social media, there has been a massive spike in Instagram and TikTok personalities and alike showcasing all aspects of their lives on their public feeds – from talking to a camera while walking around the house or uploading a dance trend with the exterior of their home in full view.

Many wouldn’t realise scammers are harnessing this content looking for clues, personal information in the background or even trying to hone in on the exact address and movements of these characters – some making huge wealth on the platform. Australians need to get more aware of what they are posting online and how it might attract scammers – check your backgrounds excessively and make sure you’re not giving anything away.

The Crowdsourcing Criminals

With identity theft, a range of doors open for scammers – one that is seeing major prominence is the ‘GoFundMe’ fraudsters who use fake identities or create stories to source millions of dollars fraudulently.

A recent example out of the USA saw a woman face three years in prison for her part in raising close to $600,000 for a made-up homeless good samaritan that she wanted to support.

Stories like this pop up all the time and it pays to use your intuition when it comes to these fundraisers and do your background research to confirm the legitimacy of the fundraiser.

Fake Job Offers: Promises of Prosperity

Time and time again in my work, I hear tragic stories of people falling victim to the promise of a well-paying job. Not only that, but as a migrant myself – many people looking for a fresh start in Australia are some of the prime targets for these types of scams.

More scammers in 2023 are opting to pose as potential employers, offering fake job opportunities that require an upfront payment or asking someone to share a range of personal details – often leading to identity theft or financial losses.

Research is your best friend when it comes to protecting yourself from these scams in 2024 and never pay money upfront for employment opportunities. Legitimate employers will never ask for your personal or financial information before hiring.

Investment Schemes: A Mirage of Wealth

With the rise of more financial-related podcasts, books and content, more Australians are investing their hard-earned money in a range of different platforms in pursuit of growing their money quickly.

With this in mind and again with the rise of AI, we can see a spike in investment scams on the 2024 horizon.

Scammers entice victims with promises of high returns, but they have no intention of delivering. These schemes often lead to significant financial losses and shattered dreams.

Be sceptical of investment schemes that promise unrealistic returns, and never invest money you can’t afford to lose.

My top tip to stay scam-safe as we move into 2024 is to really use your imagination and try to ‘think like a scammer’ when posting anything online.

Using your intuition and being untrustworthy are two critical skills when it comes to protecting yourself online. My number one saying is ‘if it is too good to be true, it probably is!’. Do your research. While it may be challenging to completely eliminate the risk of online scams, awareness, caution, and scepticism can go a long way when it comes to falling prey to deceptive schemes.

Educate yourself and your loved ones and report any suspicious activities to the relevant authorities. By staying informed and cautious, we can reduce the opportunities for scammers and collectively work towards a safer online environment for all Australians.

This post was written by Mario Bekes