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5 types of online scams to watch out for

5 types of online scams to watch out for

As more and more people continue to shop online, it’s easier to get scammed.

With tech-savvy people getting caught out and the hackers getting more sophisticated in their scamming, it can be hard to know what to look out for.

"We've had clients who have been scammed lots of money, and they're sophisticated, smart, hard-working people. But in that vulnerable moment, they fell for it," says technology trainer Lisa Du to the ABC.

There are countless scams out there on the internet, but here are five of the most common scam types.

  1. Classified advertisement scams: These are found on sites such as Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. Fake receipts are sent, or fake transactions are used to obtain a product without payment. Others use these platforms to accept money for an item that they never plan on delivering. 
  2. Fake online stores: People pay for items that they never received.
  3. Pyramid schemes: These scams rely on you paying a fee to participate and finding others to “invest” in the opportunity you’re providing. These scams often fall over once people can’t find others to participate.
  4. Investment or gambling scams: These scams promise guaranteed profits thanks to systems or special software.
  5. Dating or romance scams: People are posing on dating websites or social media networks, work on their scams for a long time and build “online relationships” before requesting money.

It’s not easy to tell if you’re being conned. Lisa Du, despite being a technology trainer, has fallen for a scam herself.

"At first, I was so excited. I replied and they gave me their email address," she says. "Then I thought about it, and wondered why they couldn't keep communicating through text message."

There were other red flags, including that the woman wasn’t easily contactable and offered to pick up the phone without inspecting it first.

"Normally what [scammers] do is send you a fake screenshot with confirmation about making a payment, or they'll send you a fake receipt," she says.

"If you're time-poor, or if you're not looking carefully, it looks very much like a real receipt. Then they use a courier, and you've given them that item for free."

In order to stay safe, Lisa recommends using your common sense and meeting up with people in person.

"If you are going to buy a phone from Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, try and meet the seller in person, and try to do it in a public place," she says.

"It might be outside a bank, outside a petrol station, somewhere with cameras. And don't transfer the money to an unknown person."