Facebook users have been urged to avoid a fake lotto scam that has netted more than $100,000 in the last three months.
WA ScamNet issued the public warning on Thursday after receiving reports from 18 people claiming to have lost a combined total of almost $110,000 since April 1.
‘The individual losses have escalated in recent weeks with three people reporting to have lost between $14,000 and $16,000 each,’ the Consumer Protection WA website states.
The victims received messages from people who they thought were friends urging them to claim lottery prizes.
At least 18 West Australians have claimed to have been conned by a bogus online lottery scam since April 1
Facebook users should be on high alert if they are sent a link to this website (pictured)
The scammers set up cloned Facebook accounts using stolen images and send messages to friends of that account.
‘The ‘friend’ claims to have won money in a lottery and tells the victim they’re also on the winners list.
Victims are then given a link to a bogus Facebook page of an ‘agent’ who collects the fees and a fake website which displays a list of beneficiaries.
Believing they had won between $150,000 and $300,000, the victims were asked to pay administration costs, duty and delivery fees of up to $16,000 before being sent tracking information from a fake transport company.
One victim became suspicious when the ‘transport company’ told him the delivery truck had been in an accident in the state’s southwest and ordered he pay for a private driver and bodyguard in order to receive their ‘winnings’.
The scammers went as far as sending a photo of a damaged truck as evidence.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard (pictured) wants to put a stop to the losses that have been claimed by the bogus lottery
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said people have been conned because they believed the Facebook message was from a trusted friend.
‘The victims tell us that they went along with the sting because they thought the message was from a real friend, giving the whole scenario some legitimacy in the minds of those being targeted,’ Mr Hillyard said.
‘We have been successful in getting the fake Facebook pages and websites shut down, but they just pop up again using different names and the highly lucrative scam continues to claim more victims.’
Mr Hillyard urged Facebook users to question any communication which involves unexpected prizes and upfront payment of fees.
‘Spread the word about this scam among family and friends and share on social media so we can put a stop to the losses being suffered by a growing number of victims,’ he said.
To report a scam, email [email protected] or call 1300 30 40 54.
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