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"I felt duped": 95-year-old loses $1.6 million in bank scam

<p>A 95-year-old has been left feeling "sick" after she was scammed out of $1.6 million by heartless scammers claiming to be a bank. </p> <p>In November last year, Harriet Spring received a call from a man who called himself George Thompson, and said he worked for ING Bank. </p> <p>The man gained Harriet's trust over several months, at the difficult time that the great-grandmother was handling the sale of her mother's house.</p> <p>"Over time, I completely thought he was from ING, I had no reason to believe he wasn't," she told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/95-year-old-great-grandmother-loses-more-than-1-million-life-savings-to-scammers/f41540e7-f5c9-4c3b-89a7-ac94dd81bf6a" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Today</em></a>.</p> <p>"George" then convinced Harriet the money from the sale of the house could build interest in an ING account, but it was actually being held by Westpac Bank.</p> <p>"It sounds implausible now, but the scammer had me convinced and I told my mother's bank, Teachers Mutual Bank, that this was an ING fixed term deposit, but it was being put in the Westpac bank," she said.</p> <p>"I put down the BSB number and the account number and what I thought was my name attached to the account, (my mother's bank) pointed out that it seems strange and ING account would be held with Westpac, but they still went ahead and authorised the transfer."</p> <p>When Harriet realised the scammers had taken hold of her life savings totalling $1.6 million, she felt "sick". </p> <p>"Obviously my world just fell out from under me - I just felt sick," she said.</p> <p>"I felt utterly responsible, I felt duped, foolish, ashamed - a lot of shame associated with it and I think that's why a lot of people don't come forward and talk about this kind of thing."</p> <p>Harriet has shared her story as a warning for others to be wary of potential scammers, while also calling on banks to have better protocols in place to stop suspicious transactions from going through. </p> <p>"Someone with basic training from the bank would have known that ING don't bank with any other banks and they should have flagged it," she said.</p> <p>"I believe the reality is that the banks 100 per cent put the blame on the victims and they minimise their own liability."</p> <p>"There should be some sort of system for compensating victims, the banks don't commit the theft, but they certainly drive the getaway car and they need to be held responsible for being complicit with this."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p>

Legal

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How to avoid 6 common tourist scams

<p>Often when people are on holidays their focus is on relaxing or seeing the sights of the area. But if you don’t keep your wits about you, it’s possible you might end up losing everything to scammers who will do anything to get their hands on your belongings.</p> <p>Here we have six common scams to look out for while you are travelling abroad.</p> <p><strong>Scam 1:</strong> You are in a busy bar in a tourist friendly area when some locals ask where you’re from and offer to buy you a drink. Without thinking, you accept the drink and then find yourself waking up hours later without any of your belongings as you’ve had your drink spiked.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> If people seem too friendly, be aware that they may be scammers. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know, and don’t leave your drink unattended to use the bathroom.</p> <p><strong>Scam 2:</strong> You are about to put your handbag and computer on the conveyer belt to go through the scanner. The people in front of you walk through the metal detector and while one goes through, the other sets off the alarms. They step back into where you are standing and take their time removing wallets and coins from their pockets. While you are waiting for your turn to walk through the metal detector, the other person has taken your belongings and is long gone.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Don’t place your items on the conveyer belt until there is no one else waiting in front of you to go through the metal detector.</p> <p><strong>Scam 3:</strong> In a busy area such as after a concert or a busy night like New Year’s Eve it can be impossible to get public transport or a taxi back to your hotel. A friendly looking guy comes by and offers you a lift for a reasonable fee using his private car. The scam itself can then range from being charged an exorbitant amount when you arrive at your hotel – or you could even find yourself robbed and dropped by the side of the road with no way home.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> However tempting it is, never get in the car with an unlicensed taxi driver. This is even more important to note if you are travelling alone.</p> <p><strong>Scam 4:</strong> While you are waiting with your luggage for a train or bus, a passer-by appears to drop their wallet and walk off without noticing. You might try to do the right thing by grabbing the wallet and running after the person to return it. By the time you get back, your luggage is missing.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> When travelling alone, never leave your items unattended even if it means you don’t help someone when you normally would. This is especially true in airports where baggage will quickly be confiscated if left alone.</p> <p><strong>Scam 5:</strong> You’re taking in the sights when a couple of men dressed as policemen approach you. They demand to see your wallet and let you know that counterfeit money has been given to tourists in the area. When your wallet is returned it has had much of the contents removed.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Police would never demand to see your wallet. If something doesn’t feel right, suggest that you continue the discussion at the nearest police station as you don’t feel comfortable. Most likely they will not push their luck.</p> <p><strong>Scam 6:</strong> You receive a phone call in your hotel room late at night from someone claiming to be from the front desk. They apologise for the late call but request that you just confirm your credit card details as their system is playing up. You read out the numbers and hang up. Before too long your credit card has rung up a huge bill as this was a scammer calling you, not a staff member.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Organise payment in person by letting the caller know that you will come down to the front desk to discuss it.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Travel Tips

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Kochie's thoughtful act for scam victim

<p>David Koch has given back to a hard-working Aussie who lost her life savings to a convincing scam. </p> <p>For many years, scammers have been using the likeness of Australian celebrities to con people out of their money. </p> <p>Kochie is just one of many high-profile personalities who have had their identities used to run convincing scams, that thousands of people have fallen victim to. </p> <p>The former <em>Sunrise</em> host has often taken to social media to warn people of the illegitimate ads, but it hasn't been enough to stop the scammers in their tracks. </p> <p>In a special <em>7News Spotlight</em> investigation, Kochie joined the team to lift the lid on the multi-billion-dollar scam industry in which fake advertisements featuring well-known celebrities have been used to con more than 600,000 Aussies.</p> <p>“It’s devastating because it’s my reputation on the line,” says Koch.</p> <p>“And these scams are so good, they’re so believable that people who trust me look at me and say, ‘Wow, I’m getting some comfort out of what this bloke is saying,’ and then are ripped off by some scammer from overseas.”</p> <p>Koch is desperately trying to stop this criminal act, saying, “I’ve reported it to the ACCC and ASIC. I’m part of an ACCC case against Meta at the moment surrounding these scam ads.”</p> <p>As part of the investigation, Kochie met Allison, who lost $250,000 when she invested her money in what she thought was a reputable company, fronted by who she believed to be the former <em>Sunrise</em> host.</p> <p>As an avid Port Adelaide supporter, she trusts Koch, who is also the Chairman of the football club.</p> <p>“Port Adelaide members are all part of a big family,” says Koch. “And the fact that these scammers use my association with the club to prey on members is just abhorrent.”</p> <p>After losing her savings, Allison has been struggling to make ends meet, and is on a payment plan so she can stay as a member of the AFL club she loves.</p> <p>After learning of her story, Koch himself has stepped in and ensured she has lifelong membership.</p> <p>“It’s the least we can do,” says Koch to Allison. “Because, football has got to be your haven.”</p> <p>Allison is just one of the many victims of complex scams in Australia, with reporter Sarah Greenhalgh believes millions of dollars have been illegally stolen.</p> <p>“The scammers successfully prey on these people’s unique vulnerabilities and the victims’ lives have changed forever as a result,” she says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News Spotlight</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Australians lose $5,200 a minute to scammers. There’s a simple thing the government could do to reduce this. Why won’t they?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709">Peter Martin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</a></em></p> <p>What if the government was doing everything it could to stop thieves making off with our money, except the one thing that could really work?</p> <p>That’s how it looks when it comes to <a href="https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams">scams</a>, which are attempts to trick us out of our funds, usually by getting us to hand over our identities or bank details or transfer funds.</p> <p>Last year we lost an astonishing <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/scam-losses-decline-but-more-work-to-do-as-australians-lose-27-billion">A$2.74 billion</a> to scammers. That’s more than $5,200 per minute – and that’s only the scams we know about from the 601,000 Australians who made reports. Many more would have kept quiet.</p> <p>If the theft of $5,200 per minute seems over the odds for a country Australia’s size, a comparison with the United Kingdom suggests you are right. In 2022, people in the UK lost <a href="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/system/files/2023-05/Annual%20Fraud%20Report%202023_0.pdf">£2,300</a> per minute, which is about A$4,400. The UK has two and a half times Australia’s population.</p> <p>It’s as if international scammers, using SMS, phone calls, fake invoices and fake web addresses are targeting Australia, because in other places it’s harder.</p> <p>If we want to cut Australians’ losses, it’s time to look at rules about to come into force in the UK.</p> <h2>Scams up 320% since 2020</h2> <p>The current federal government is doing a lot – <em>almost</em> everything it could. Within a year of taking office, it set up the <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/national-anti-scam-centre">National Anti-Scam Centre</a>, which coordinates intelligence. Just this week, the centre reported that figure of $2.74 billion, which is down 13% on 2022, but up 50% on 2021 and 320% on 2020.</p> <p>It’s planning “<a href="https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2023-464732">mandatory industry codes</a>” for banks, telecommunication providers and digital platforms.</p> <p>But the code it is proposing for banks, set out in a <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-11/c2023-464732-cp.pdf">consultation paper</a> late last year, is weak when compared to overseas.</p> <h2>Banks are the gatekeepers</h2> <p>Banks matter, because they are nearly always the means by which the money is transferred. Cryptocurrency is now much less used after the banks agreed to limit payments to high risk exchanges.</p> <p>Here’s an example of the role played by banks. A woman the Consumer Action Law Centre is calling <a href="https://consumeraction.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Joint-submission-CALC-CHOICE-ACCAN-31012024-Scams-Mandatory-code-treasury-consultA.pdf">Amelia</a> tried to sell a breast pump on Gumtree.</p> <p>The buyer asked for her bank card number and a one-time PIN and used the code to whisk out $9,100, which was sent overseas. The bank wouldn’t help because she had provided the one-time PIN.</p> <p>Here’s another. A woman the Competition and Consumer Commission is calling <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Targeting%20scams%202022.pdf">Niamh</a> was contacted by someone using the National Australia Bank’s SMS ID. Niamh was told her account was compromised and talked through how to transfer $300,000 to a “secure” account.</p> <p>After she had done it, the scammer told her it was a scam, laughed and said “we are in Brisbane, come find me”.</p> <h2>How bank rules protect scammers</h2> <p>And one more example. Former University of Melbourne academic <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/377766055_Scams_Blaming_the_Victims">Kim Sawyer</a> (that’s his real name, he is prepared to go public) clicked on an ad for “St George Capital” displaying the dragon logo of St. George Bank.</p> <p>He was called back by a man using the name of a real St. George employee, who persuaded him to transfer funds from accounts at the AMP, Citibank and Macquarie to accounts he was told would be in his and his wife’s name at Westpac, ANZ, the Commonwealth and Bendigo Banks.</p> <p>They lost <a href="https://www.afr.com/wealth/personal-finance/i-lost-2-5m-of-my-super-to-scammers-20240423-p5flzp">$2.5 million</a>. Sawyer says none of the banks – those that sent the funds or those that received them – would help him. Some cited “<a href="https://www.choice.com.au/money/financial-planning-and-investing/stock-market-investing/articles/st-george-capital-investment-scam">privacy</a>” reasons.</p> <p>The Consumer Action Law Centre says the banks that transfer the scammed funds routinely tell their customers “it’s nothing to do with us, you transferred the money, we can’t help you”. The banks receiving the funds routinely say “you’re not our customer, we can’t help you”.</p> <p>That’s here. Not in the UK.</p> <h2>UK bank customers get a better deal</h2> <p>In Australia in 2022, only <a href="https://download.asic.gov.au/media/mbhoz0pc/rep761-published-20-april-2023.pdf">13%</a> of attempted scam payments were stopped by banks before they took place. Once scammed, only 2% to 5% of losses (depending on the bank) were reimbursed or compensated.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/information-for-consumers/app-fraud-performance-data/">the UK</a>, the top four banks pay out 49% to 73%.</p> <p>And they are about to pay out much more. From October 2024, reimbursement will be compulsory. Where authorised fast payments are made “because of deception by fraudsters”, the banks will have to reimburse <a href="https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/investigation-fraud-and-risk/app-fraud-uk">the lot</a>.</p> <p>Normally the bills will be split <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/news-and-updates/latest-news/news/psr-confirms-new-requirements-for-app-fraud-reimbursement/">50:50</a> between the bank transferring the funds and the bank receiving them. Unless there’s a need for further investigations, the payments must be made within five days.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/media/as3a0xan/sr1-consumer-standard-of-caution-guidance-dec-2023.pdf">only exceptions</a> are where the consumer seeking reimbursement has acted fraudulently or with gross negligence.</p> <p>The idea behind the change – pushed through by the Conservative government now led by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – is that if scams are the banks’ problem, if they are costing them millions at a time, they’ll stop them.</p> <p><a href="https://www.thepost.co.nz/business/350197309/banks-given-fraud-ultimatum">New Zealand</a> is looking at doing the same thing, <a href="https://www.biocatch.com/blog/mas-shared-responsibility-fraud-losses">as is Singapore</a>.</p> <p>But here, the treasury’s discussion paper on its mandatory codes mentions reimbursement <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-11/c2023-464732-cp.pdf">only once</a>. That’s when it talks about what’s happening in the UK. Neither treasury nor the relevant federal minister is proposing it here.</p> <h2>Australia’s approach is softer</h2> <p>Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones is in charge of Australia’s rules.</p> <p>Asked why he wasn’t pushing for compulsory reimbursement here, Jones said on Monday <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/transcripts/interview-mark-gibson-abc-perth">prevention was better</a>.</p> <blockquote> <p>I think a simplistic approach of just saying, ‘Oh, well, if any loss, if anyone incurs a loss, then the bank always pay’, won’t work. It’ll just make Australia a honeypot for these international crime gangs, because they’ll say, well, ‘Let’s, you know, focus all of our activity on Australia because it’s a victimless crime if banks always pay’.</p> </blockquote> <p>Telling banks to pay would certainly focus the minds of the banks, in the way they are about to be focused in the UK.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ausbanking.org.au/submissions/">Australian Banking Association</a> hasn’t published its submission to the treasury review, but the <a href="https://consumeraction.org.au/scams-mandatory-industry-codes-consultation-paper/">Consumer Action Law Centre</a> has.</p> <p>It says if banks had to reimburse money lost, they’d have more of a reason to keep it safe.</p> <p>In the UK, they are about to find out. If Jones is right, it might be about to become a honeypot for scammers. If he is wrong, his government will leave Australia even further behind when it comes to scams – leaving us thousands more dollars behind per day.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228867/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709">Peter Martin</a>, Visiting Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australians-lose-5-200-a-minute-to-scammers-theres-a-simple-thing-the-government-could-do-to-reduce-this-why-wont-they-228867">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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What ‘psychological warfare’ tactics do scammers use, and how can you protect yourself?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mike-johnstone-106590">Mike Johnstone</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/georgia-psaroulis-1513050">Georgia Psaroulis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>Not a day goes by without a headline <a href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/qjvaym/people-share-worst-scam-stories">about a victim being scammed</a> and losing money. We are constantly warned about new scams and staying safe from cybercriminals. Scamwatch has <a href="https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/research-and-resources/tools-resources/online-resources/spot-the-scam-signs">no shortage of resources</a>, too.</p> <p>So why are people still getting scammed, and sometimes spectacularly so?</p> <p>Scammers use sophisticated psychological techniques. They exploit our deepest human vulnerabilities and bypass rational thought to tap into our emotional responses.</p> <p>This “<a href="https://www.thecut.com/article/amazon-scam-call-ftc-arrest-warrants.html">psychological warfare</a>” coerces victims into making impulsive decisions. Sometimes scammers spread their methods around many potential victims to see who is vulnerable. Other times, criminals focus on a specific person.</p> <p>Let’s unpack some of these psychological techniques, and how you can defend against them.</p> <h2>1. Random phone calls</h2> <p>Scammers start with small requests to establish a sense of commitment. After agreeing to these minor requests, we are more likely to comply with larger demands, driven by a desire to act consistently.</p> <p>The call won’t come from a number in your contacts or one you recognise, but the scammer may pretend to be someone you’ve engaged to work on your house, or perhaps one of your children using a friend’s phone to call you.</p> <p>If it is a scammer, maybe keeping you on the phone for a long time gives them an opportunity to find out things about you or people you know. They can use this info either immediately or at a later date.</p> <h2>2. Creating a sense of urgency</h2> <p>Scammers fabricate scenarios that require immediate action, like claiming a bank account is at risk of closure or an offer is about to expire. This tactic aims to prevent victims from assessing the situation logically or seeking advice, pressuring them into rushed decisions.</p> <p>The scammer creates an artificial situation in which you are frightened into doing something you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Scam calls <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-have-filed-a-case-under-your-name-beware-of-tax-scams-theyll-be-everywhere-this-eofy-162171">alleging to be from the Australian Tax Office</a> (ATO) are a great example. You have a debt to pay (apparently) and things will go badly if you don’t pay <em>right now</em>.</p> <p>Scammers play on your emotions to provoke reactions that cloud judgement. They may threaten legal trouble to instil fear, promise high investment returns to exploit greed, or share fabricated distressing stories to elicit sympathy and financial assistance.</p> <h2>3. Building rapport with casual talk</h2> <p>Through extended conversation, scammers build a psychological commitment to their scheme. No one gets very far by just demanding your password, but it’s natural to be friendly with people who are friendly towards us.</p> <p>After staying on the line for long periods of time, the victim also becomes cognitively fatigued. This not only makes the victim more open to suggestions, but also isolates them from friends or family who might recognise and counteract the scam.</p> <h2>4. Help me to help you</h2> <p>In this case, the scammer creates a situation where they help you to solve a real or imaginary problem (that they actually created). They work their “IT magic” and the problem goes away.</p> <p>Later, they ask you for something you wouldn’t normally do, and you do it because of the “social debt”: they helped you first.</p> <p>For example, a hacker might attack a corporate network, causing it to slow down. Then they call you, pretending to be from your organisation, perhaps as a recent hire not yet on the company’s contact list. They “help” you by turning off the attack, leaving you suitably grateful.</p> <p>Perhaps a week later, they call again and ask for sensitive information, such as the CEO’s password. You <em>know</em> company policy is to not divulge it, but the scammer will ask if you remember them (of course you do) and come up with an excuse for why they really need this password.</p> <p>The balance of the social debt says you will help them.</p> <h2>5. Appealing to authority</h2> <p>By posing as line managers, officials from government agencies, banks, or other authoritative bodies, scammers exploit our natural tendency to obey authority.</p> <p>Such scams operate at varying levels of sophistication. The simple version: your manager messages you with an <em>urgent</em> request to purchase some gift cards and send through their numbers.</p> <p>The complex version: your manager calls and asks to urgently transfer a large sum of money to an account you don’t recognise. You do this because <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/fraudsters-use-ai-to-mimic-ceos-voice-in-unusual-cybercrime-case-11567157402">it sounds exactly</a> like your manager on the phone – but the scammer <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2021/10/14/huge-bank-fraud-uses-deep-fake-voice-tech-to-steal-millions/?sh=1329b80e7559">is using a voice deepfake</a>. In a recent major case in Hong Kong, such a scam even involved a <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2024/02/04/asia/deepfake-cfo-scam-hong-kong-intl-hnk/index.html">deepfake video call</a>.</p> <p>This is deeply challenging because artificial intelligence tools, such as Microsoft’s VALL-E, can create <a href="https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2023/01/microsofts-new-ai-can-simulate-anyones-voice-with-3-seconds-of-audio/">a voice deepfake</a> using just three seconds of sampled audio from a real person.</p> <h2>How can you defend against a scam?</h2> <p>First and foremost, <strong>verify identity</strong>. Find another way to contact the person to verify who they are. For example, you can call a generic number for the business and ask to be connected.</p> <p>In the face of rampant voice deepfakes, it can be helpful to <strong>agree on a “safe word” with your family members</strong>. If they call from an unrecognised number and you don’t hear the safe word just hang up.</p> <p>Watch out for <strong>pressure tactics</strong>. If the conversation is moving too fast, remember that someone else’s problem is not yours to solve. Stop and run the problem past a colleague or family member for a sanity check. A legitimate business will have no problem with you doing this.</p> <p>Lastly, if you are not sure about even the slightest detail, the simplest thing is to hang up or not respond. If you really owe a tax debt, the ATO will write to you.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223959/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mike-johnstone-106590"><em>Mike Johnstone</em></a><em>, Security Researcher, Associate Professor in Resilient Systems, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/georgia-psaroulis-1513050">Georgia Psaroulis</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-psychological-warfare-tactics-do-scammers-use-and-how-can-you-protect-yourself-223959">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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War veteran loses $18,000 to Netflix scam

<p>Shane Arnold, 71, was left with nothing after he fell for an elaborate Netflix scam, allegedly run by a teenager. </p> <p>The war veteran was robbed of $18,000 when he thought he was entitled to a refund after receiving a fake Netflix email.</p> <p>After he entered his personal banking details, the accused scammer allegedly used this information to call Arnold the following day claiming to be a security officer from Commonwealth Bank.</p> <p>"(It was) extremely convincing," Arnold told <em>9News</em>. </p> <p>"He spoke in a posh English accent."</p> <p>Arnold was allegedly told by a 19-year-old, whose voice had been disguised with AI, that his account had been compromised and ordered to put his bank cards in a bag, to be collected by a driver.</p> <p>Hours later, the accused teen who is from Braybrook, Melbourne allegedly withdrew thousands of dollars from ATMs in Braybrook and West Footscray, and purchased dozens of gift cards from Kmart.</p> <p>He also allegedly filled up on fuel, bought a new iPhone, and some strawberry milk and ice cream. </p> <p>The teen has since been charged over the incident, but Arnold is still fighting hard to get his money back. </p> <p>"I've worked for 50-odd years to get that money," he told the publication, adding that he felt "like my heart had been ripped out".</p> <p>The senior also claimed that the bank was partly to blame, and has lodged a report to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) who are currently managing his case. </p> <p>Arnold added that Commonwealth Bank had only offered to reimburse him $1000, and said that everyone who'd been scammed deserved to have their money returned to them.</p> <p>"I hope all those people get their money back," he said.</p> <p>"None of them deserved to be scammed and none of them did anything wrong."</p> <p><em>Images: Nine News</em></p>

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"It was devastating": Grandfather loses $1 million in scam before his death

<p>A "vulnerable" and "lonely" grandfather lost over $1 million in a complex scam in the months before he died, with his son now issuing a warning to others. </p> <p>Adrian Heartsch was described by his family as a "frugal" man, who had no experience with online banking before becoming involved in the scam. </p> <p>“Unless he knew exactly what he was paying for – he wouldn’t pay for it,” his son Simon Heartsch told <em>A Current Affair</em>.</p> <p>“I said to him if somebody can scam you, they can scam anybody.”</p> <p>He soon connected with someone online, who called themselves a woman named Vida and charmed him with sweet talk and pet names, and soon earned his trust.</p> <p>“He wasn’t alone, but he was lonely. He had no company, he didn’t even have his dog anymore to talk to,” his son told <em>ACA</em>. “So I guess he’s vulnerable in that way.”</p> <p>The woman convinced Mr Heartsch to send her several Apple gift cards, claiming he would be given over $20 million worth of gold bars or gold bullion in return.</p> <p>She also promised the grandfather that she would come to Australia and live “happily ever after” with him. </p> <p>Simon only discovered the truth about his father's finance and the long-running scam when Adrian landed in hospital. </p> <p>“We brought up these emails that were just gobsmacking,” he said. “The story grew from $300,000 to $600,000 to up and up and up … over a million dollars.”</p> <p>The ruse had been going on for three years, and saw Mr Heartsch buy up to $10,000 worth of Apple gift cards from several shops in a single day. </p> <p>Simon said his father was “mortified” after learning the truth and didn’t want to pursue a case with the police.</p> <p>The scam cost the 77-year-old almost everything, robbing him of his savings, truck and caravan, leaving him with only his home. </p> <p>Shortly after, Mr Heartsch fell “sicker and sicker” as his health deteriorated, and he passed away a month after his family learned of the scam.</p> <p>“It was like all this was the nail in the coffin, it was devastating for him, his whole life savings he’s lost,” said Simon.</p> <p>Adrian's family went searching for answers, and with the help of a cyber security expert, discovered that the scammer was operating out of Ghana in West Africa. </p> <p>Following his father’s death, Simon urged others to watch out for loved ones who may be vulnerable to “horrible” scammers. </p> <p>“They’re ruining peoples’ lives. They’re speeding up people’s deaths,” he said. “They’re preying on the vulnerable.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair </em></p>

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“Unbelievably legitimate”: Deb Knight falls victim to popular scam

<p>Deb Knight has shared how she fell victim to a popular scam, losing $1,200 while trying to get Taylor Swift tickets for her daughter's birthday. </p> <p>Like many people around Australia, the veteran journalist was eager to get her hands on tickets to the highly anticipated Eras Tour as a once in a lifetime surprise for her eight-year-old daughter's birthday present.</p> <p>After missing out on tickets through all official channels, Deb thought hope was lost, until a friend reached out to her. </p> <p>“A really good friend, who I’ve known all my life, contacted me and said, ‘do you still want Taylor Swift tickets?’” Knight told <em>A Current Affair</em>.</p> <p>“It was my daughter’s eighth birthday and getting my hands on these tickets would be the best present ever."</p> <p>“My friend put me in contact with her friend who had the tickets – or so I thought.”</p> <p>Knight had received a phone call from her close friend who said her cousin was selling tickets, but unbeknownst to everyone involved, the friend’s Facebook account had been hacked. </p> <p>Deb promised to pay half the cost of the tickets as a bond, then pay the rest after she had seen the tickets, which she said looked “unbelievably legitimate". </p> <p>Tech expert Trevor Long joined Deb on <em>ACA</em>, and noticed one major error about the fake tickets. </p> <p>“The difference is a genuine Taylor Swift ticket in an Apple Wallet right now does not have that barcode.”</p> <p>Alarm bells started ringing for the veteran journalist when the so-called seller said the payment had not come through, but by then it was too late.</p> <p>Deb contacted her bank but it was too late to get her $1,200 back, and her hunt to find Taylor Swift tickets continued. </p> <p>“I realised I’d been scammed. I felt sick to the stomach, absolutely humiliated. I also felt embarrassed and ashamed,” she said.</p> <p>“I was reluctant to speak publicly about this but I think we’ve got to. We have to normalise it so people feel there’s less of a stigma about it."</p> <p>“It happens to everyone, even Deb Knight – it’s disgusting, what’s happening, so something needs to be done.”</p> <p>Police have warned Swifties who missed out on tickets to the singer’s upcoming tour not to fall prey to ticketing scams, and only to purchase tickets through official channels such as Ticketek marketplace. </p> <p>Since tickets for the Eras tour went on sale last June, and subsequently sold out in record timing, Victoria Police said there had been more than 250 reports of ticketing scams for Taylor Swift shows alone.</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Too good to be true": Bank teller saves couple from losing $40k

<p>A Tasmanian couple have been saved from losing $40k into an online investment scam after a bank teller noticed the red flags. </p> <p>The couple visited the NAB branch in Rosny, Hobart after their account was blocked during an attempt to transfer the money to an ‘online investment firm’ in Perth. </p> <p>The payment was the first of two instalments that they were set to pay the "firm" but NAB Customer Advisor Erin Bugg saved them from a massive loss. </p> <p>Bugg became suspicious of the firm after they promised a 12 per cent return on their term deposit  and a guaranteed pay out if the firm went bust. </p> <p>“If there was a scam red flags bingo card, ‘online investment opportunity’ would be top of the list,”  the NAB Customer Advisor said. </p> <p>“Immediately, alarm bells went off for me. It sounded like an investment scam and I was concerned this couple could lose their life savings.” </p> <p>The couple, however, insisted that they weren't being scammed so Bugg decided to look into the matter further and found a website and article about the firm. </p> <p>When she looked into the rates they offered she realised it “was literally too good to be true." </p> <p>“No one likes to be told they’re being lied to, especially when they feel like they’ve done all the right things. They had done their own research, and even spoken to the company on the phone,” she said. </p> <p>She added that "alarm bells" started ringing when the wife explained that a man from the firm kept calling her to thank her for the investment and encourage her to open an account. </p> <p>The couple then rang the "firm" in front of Bugg to try and convince her it was real. </p> <p>“I declined to speak to the ‘firm’, but I could hear them telling the customers, ‘Oh, NAB always flags us as a scam’,’”  she recalled. </p> <p>NAB’s fraud team then informed them that the firm had a bank account at another bank, and to call the bank to confirm whether it was legit. </p> <p>After calling the other bank, they found that the account was not connected to the investment firm and suggested them to not transfer anything. </p> <p>“It was such a relief to hear from the customer that they’d avoided being scammed,” Bugg said. </p> <p>This comes after Scamwatch received  over 7,000 reports of investment scams collectively costing Aussies  over $275 million in the last year. </p> <p><em>Image: NAB </em></p>

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How to protect yourself from cyber-scammers over the festive period

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachael-medhurst-1408437">Rachael Medhurst</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p>The festive season is a time for joy, family and festive cheer. However, it’s also a prime target for cybercriminals. As online shopping ramps up, so does the risk of falling prey to cyber-attacks. That’s why it’s crucial to be extra vigilant about your <a href="https://blog.tctg.co.uk/12-cyber-security-tips-of-christmas">cybersecurity</a> during this time.</p> <p>Here are some essential tips to safeguard yourself and your data during the festive period:</p> <h2>Phishing</h2> <p>Phishing is when criminals use scam emails, text messages or phone calls to trick their victims. Their <a href="https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/phishing-scams">goal</a> is often to make you visit a certain website, which may download a virus on to your computer, or steal bank details or other personal data.</p> <p>This type of scam tends to <a href="https://www.egress.com/blog/phishing/holiday-phishing-scam-guide">increase</a> at this time due to the amount of people having bought or received new gadgets and technology.</p> <p>Look out for there being no direct reference to your name in any communications, with wording such as “Dear Sir/Madam” or other terms such as “valued customer” being used instead. Grammar and spelling mistakes are also often present.</p> <p>Be wary of any suspicious links or attachments within emails too, and don’t click them. It’s better to contact the company directly to check if the message is genuine. You can also <a href="https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/phishing-scams">report</a> suspicious messages and phishing scams to the government’s National Cyber Security Centre.</p> <h2>Shopping safely online</h2> <p>The convenience of online shopping is undeniable, especially during the festive season. However, it’s crucial to prioritise your security when buying online.</p> <p>Before entering your personal and financial information on any website, ensure it’s legitimate and secure. Look for the “https” in the address bar and a <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-vast-majority-of-us-have-no-idea-what-the-padlock-icon-on-our-internet-browser-is-and-its-putting-us-at-risk-216581">padlock</a> icon, which indicates a secure and encrypted connection.</p> <p>When creating passwords for online shopping accounts, use strong, unique combinations of letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts, as a breach on one site could compromise all your others.</p> <p>As with shopping in the real world, be cautious when encountering offers that are significantly below usual prices or which make extravagant promises. Always conduct thorough research on the seller and product before making a purchase. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.</p> <p>And if you are out shopping in towns or city centres, there will often be a large number of public wifi options available to you. However, criminals can intercept the data that is transferred across such open and unsecured wifi. So, avoid using public wifi where possible, especially when conducting any financial transactions.</p> <h2>Social media</h2> <p>While social media platforms provide people with a means to keep in touch with family and friends over the festive period, they are often a goldmine for <a href="https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-spot-a-social-media-scam-aMtwF3u1XKGt">scams</a> and malware (software designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorised access to a computer). In the spirit of the festive season, people often share an abundance of personal information on social media, often without considering the potential consequences.</p> <p>This trove of data can make people vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Scammers can exploit this information to gain unauthorised access to social media accounts, steal personal information, or even commit identity theft. To protect yourself, be mindful of what you share.</p> <p>Be wary when interacting with posts and direct messages, especially if they contain suspicious links or attachments. Before clicking on anything, hover over the link to verify its destination. If it shows a website you don’t recognise or seems unrelated to the message, do not click on it. If you receive a message from someone you know but the content seems strange or out of character, contact them directly through a trusted channel to verify its authenticity.</p> <p>Likewise, be wary of messages containing urgent requests for money or personal information from businesses. Genuine organisations will never solicit sensitive details through social media.</p> <p>There are many buy and sell platforms available on social media. But while such platforms can be a great place to find a unique gift, it is also important to remember that not all sellers may be legitimate. So, it’s vital that you don’t share your bank details. If the seller sends a link to purchase the item, do not use it. When meeting to collect an item, it’s generally safer to use cash rather than transferring funds electronically.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aO858HyFbKI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Advice for staying safe online.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Package delivery scams</h2> <p>As well as being a time for giving and receiving gifts, the festive season is also ripe for cybercriminals to exploit the excitement surrounding <a href="https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/about-us1/media/press-releases/scams-linked-to-parcel-deliveries-come-top-in-2023/">package deliveries</a>.</p> <p>Scammers often pose as legitimate delivery companies, sending emails or text messages claiming that a delivery attempt was unsuccessful or requiring additional fees for processing, or even customs clearance. Typically, these messages contain links or phone numbers that, when clicked or called, lead to fake websites or automated phone systems designed to collect personal information or payments.</p> <p>To protect yourself, always verify the legitimacy of any delivery notifications you receive. Check the sender’s email address or phone number against the official contact information for the delivery company. If the information doesn’t match or seems suspicious, don’t click any links or provide personal details.</p> <p>Legitimate delivery companies will never ask for upfront payment or sensitive information through unsolicited messages or calls.</p> <p>Remember, cybercriminals are skilled at manipulating the festive spirit to their advantage. Stay vigilant, exercise caution, and don’t let your excitement for gifts and deliveries compromise your cybersecurity.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218294/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachael-medhurst-1408437"><em>Rachael Medhurst</em></a><em>, Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in Cyber Security NCSA, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-cyber-scammers-over-the-festive-period-218294">original article</a>.</em></p>

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“Imagine being offended by gingerbread": Woolies shopper slammed online

<p>A Woolies customer has come under fire after pointing out a "woke" change in the iconic Christmas cookie. </p> <p>The shopper took to Reddit to slam the Woolworths Bakery for renaming the festive packs of cookies to Gingerbread People, rather than Gingerbread Men.</p> <p>“Woolworths has renamed their biscuits Gingerbread ‘people’,” they wrote in the forum, with a picture of the new label. </p> <p>“Apparently Gingerbread ‘man’ isn’t woke enough.” </p> <p>Instead of people agreeing, many thought he was a weir-dough (pun intended), and said that it was “no big deal”. </p> <p>“I’m trying really hard but too busy caring about my electricity bill doubling in the last year to have energy left over for gingerbread people,” one wrote. </p> <p>“Imagine being offended by gingerbread," another commented. </p> <p>“Seriously? Like if you wanted some gingerbread, you wouldn’t buy them because they’re called people?" a third wrote. </p> <p>“Once again confirming that anyone that actually uses the word ‘woke’ is a pathetic little manbaby," a fourth slammed. </p> <p>Others agreed that it was strange to see people get annoyed about a name change. </p> <p>“And you got so offended you came to Reddit to post about it. Who is the d***head here them or you?”</p> <p>“God I love watching the snowflakes melt over this," responded another. </p> <p>There were only a few people who agreed with the shopper, and said that the supermarket giant had gone too far. </p> <p>“At some point soon I’m just not going to care about offending people. If you can’t handle a biscuit with man in the name, simply grab a box of tissues and retreat to your safe space,” wrote one user. </p> <p>“Jesus Christ. It’s a f***ing biscuit vaguely shaped like a human. Do we need to make a biscuit gender neutral so we don’t offend people?” added another. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty/ Reddit</em></p>

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Aussie grandma and former Greens candidate jailed in Japan claims she was scammed

<p>Donna Nelson, a 57-year-old Perth grandmother, has found herself entangled in a nightmarish situation in a Japanese prison, accused of a crime she vehemently denies.</p> <p>Nelson, an Aboriginal health advocate and former Greens candidate, has been incarcerated for nearly a year without a trial date set, facing allegations of attempting to smuggle two kilograms of meth into Japan. However, her plight is not as straightforward as it may seem, and her family and legal team are tirelessly fighting to clear her name.</p> <p>The ordeal began on January 4, when Nelson was arrested at Narita Airport in Tokyo. Authorities claimed to have discovered drugs concealed within a false compartment in her luggage. According to the prosecution, a customs officer suspected her of acting suspiciously. But the narrative has taken a complex turn as Nelson's defence team unveiled a shocking revelation: she alleges she was deceived and manipulated by a Nigerian scammer who had groomed her for two years.</p> <p>Since her arrest, Nelson has been confined to Chibu prison, located an hour outside Tokyo. Her living conditions are appalling; she spends 23 hours a day isolated in her cell, showers are allowed only every three days, and communication with other inmates and visitors is strictly prohibited. This form of treatment is a reflection of Japan's infamous "hostage justice" strategy, aimed at coercing confessions from detainees.</p> <p>The only individuals granted access to Nelson are her lawyers, Australian embassy representatives, and a pastor. Legal representatives have identified a significant issue with translation throughout the case, and it could very well hinge on an inaccurate translation by the customs officer at the time of her arrest.</p> <p>Rie Nishida from Shinjuku International Law Firm, one of Nelson's lawyers, explained, "The main evidence from the prosecution is mainly a customs officer who said she acted suspiciously. There's a lot of mistranslation that's also the difficulty in this case."</p> <p>This mistranslation issue is not trivial; it extends to the messages exchanged between Nelson and the man she believed she had a romantic connection with, who ultimately turned out to be a scammer.</p> <p>Matthew Owens, another member of the legal team and a translator for the case, noted, "Some of them were completely wrongly translated, so we had to re-translate those messages and submit them back to the prosecutor."</p> <p>Nelson remains steadfast in her conviction that she is innocent of the accusations against her. Her lawyer,  Owens, relayed her message, saying, "Donna wants to say that she is going to be able to prove her innocence, she's 100 per cent confident of that, and she wants everyone in Australia and the world to know she is innocent."</p> <p>If found guilty, Nelson could face a harrowing 20-year sentence in a Japanese prison, a terrifying prospect for both her and her family. Her five daughters and grandchildren are distraught, but they are not giving up the fight to prove her innocence. They believe they have evidence to substantiate the claim that she was scammed and unjustly accused.</p> <p><em>Image: Australian Greens</em></p>

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1 in 6 older adults fall victim to impersonation scams

<p>More older adults are likely to fall victim to scams than are currently recognised according to new US research. The problems are global. </p> <div class="copy"> <p>A research team from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, US, says older Americans who aren’t cognitively impeded, are also at risk.  </p> <p>In their study <a href="https://10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.35319" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">published</a> today in <em>JAMA Network Open</em>, the group reports on a behavioural experiment where they targeted 644 adults aged 64-104 in Rush’s Memory and Aging Project – a local scheme that draws on participants from metropolitan Chicago to participate in research – with a pitch mimicking a real-world impersonation scam. </p> <p>The study’s fictitious ‘US Retirement Protection Task Force’ pitched itself to participants as a government social security initiative.  </p> <p>This USRPTF told participants via either post, email or a telephone call there’d been irregular activity on their Medicare or social security file and the inquiry was a routine account security check. As part of this, the fake agency asked participants to call a telephone hotline or login to a provided website to provide their details.  </p> <p>Over two-thirds of the study failed to respond to any attempts to obtain information by the phoney scheme.  </p> <p>The remainder were evenly split by either responding to requests for contact, but expressing scepticism at the authenticity of the USRPTF, or by responding and engaging with the request for information.  </p> <p>Those who were engaged with the request for information, but expressed doubts, were also those with the highest cognitive performance, and lowest proportion of dementia. They were also the most financially literate participants, while those who provided their details had the lowest literacy. </p> <p>Those who provided details were also found to have the lowest scam awareness of all participants.  </p> <p>Among this group, 1 in 10 willingly provided personal information and 1 in 5 provided details of their social security number.  </p> <p>“If extrapolated to a population level, these numbers are astounding and suggest that a very large number of older adults are at risk of victimisation,” the authors say. </p> <p>They also note that, given the use of a fictitious US government organisation name, the number of people vulnerable to well-organised scams is likely much higher.  </p> <p>Last year, the US National Council on Aging reported 92,371 older Americans were defrauded of a total of US$1.7 billion. Most were victims of government department impersonation, sweepstakes and robocall scams. Often such scams will simply demand payment while ‘spoofing’ the phone number of a government agency to add the veil of legitimacy. </p> <p>It’s a similar story around the world. This year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found Australians lost a record $3.1 billion last year, mostly via phone scams. Australians over 65 years of age accounted for a quarter of losses and reports.  </p> <p>The UK’s Action Fraud initiative found Britons lost about ₤2.35 billion in the 2020/21 financial year, with those aged 50-69 most susceptible to falling victim.  </p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1">&amp;lt;img decoding="async" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Issue-100-embed.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Subscribe to our quarterly print magazine" width="600" height="154" title="1 in 6 older adults fall victim to impersonation scams 2"&amp;gt;</noscript></p> </div> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/1-in-6-older-adults-fall-victim-to-impersonation-scams/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="null">Cosmos</a>. </em></p> </div>

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Hilarious reason dad couldn't be fooled by online scam

<p>One savvy dad has outwitted a scammer who posed as his daughter, after the scammer made one hilarious error. </p> <p>Ian Whitworth, a dad from Sydney, took to his LinkedIn page to share the message a scammer texted him in a classic phishing scam that targets parents. </p> <p>He shared the photo of what he thought was the "funniest phishing text any parent has ever received".</p> <p>The text read, "Hey dad, dropped my phone in the sink while doing the dishes. Its unresponsive this is my new number for now just text me here x."</p> <p>Despite the terrible grammar and punctuation that would immediately alert anyone to the possibility of a scam, it was something else that caught the dad's attention. </p> <p>Instead, Whitworth said it was the fact his daughter would never do the chore mentioned by the scammers.</p> <p>Still, he thought it was worth sharing a photo of the text in a bid to warn others, which he uploaded along with the comment, "Cybersecurity update. I just got this."</p> <p>"Perhaps the funniest phishing txt any parent has ever received. 'Doing the dishes', yeah, for sure."</p> <p>In a reply to one of the people who commented on his post, Whitworth joked that his daughter "at age four emerged from my parents' kitchen with a shocked look on her face. 'What's pop doing?'. He was washing up in the sink."</p> <p>Another commenter wrote, "Haha! There is NO WAY this is from my son or daughter, that's for sure."</p> <p>Another commenter said the giveaway that it wasn't from his own child was that they didn't immediately ask for money, to which Whitworth replied, "Ha, yeah, the phishers are like the seven step ladder of confidence before the money issue gets raised. Actual kids: MONEY NOW."</p> <p>According to the federal government's Scamwatch website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the "Friends/Family Hi Mum" impersonation scam was common.</p> <p>"Scammers send messages pretending to be a family member or a friend desperate for money," it said.</p> <p>"They say they have a new phone and they need you to pay money to help them out of a crisis."</p> <p>Scamwatch warns: "Don't assume a person you are dealing with is who they say they are" and offers the following advice.</p> <p>"If someone you know sends a message to say they have a new phone number, try to call them on the existing number you have for them, or message them on the new number with a question only they would know the answer to," it said.</p> <p>"That way you will know if they are who they say they are."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / LinkedIn</em></p>

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The ‘yes’ Voice campaign is far outspending ‘no’ in online advertising, but is the message getting through?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrea-carson-924">Andrea Carson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/max-gromping-1466451">Max Grömping</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-strating-129115">Rebecca Strating</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-jackman-310245">Simon Jackman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>With early voting set to open next week for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum, this is a critical time for campaigners to win over voters.</p> <p>If the <a href="https://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n11054/pdf/ch01.pdf">2022 federal election</a> is anything to go by, Australians have developed a taste for early voting, with fewer than half of all voters actually going to a polling station on election day.</p> <p>If the same voting patterns apply to the referendum, this means more than half of Australians, particularly <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/government-and-opposition/article/correlates-of-early-voting/49D19E94A1D26F9AFE1B72DCB56AFF3F">older voters</a>, may have cast a vote before voting day on October 14.</p> <h2>What’s happening in the polls?</h2> <p>Public polls indicate support for the “yes” campaign continues to decline, despite, as we’ve shown below, huge spending on advertising and extensive media coverage of its message.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://simonjackman.github.io/poll_averaging_voice_2023/poll_averaging.html">Professor Simon Jackman’s</a> averaging of the polls, “no” currently leads “yes” by 58% to 42% nationally. If this lead holds, the result would be <a href="https://www.aec.gov.au/elections/referendums/1999_referendum_reports_statistics/1999.htm">even more lopsided</a> than the 1999 republic referendum defeat, where the <a href="https://www.aec.gov.au/elections/referendums/1999_referendum_reports_statistics/summary_republic.htm">nationwide vote </a> was 55% “no” to 45% “yes”.</p> <p>The rate of decline in support for “yes” continues to be about 0.75 of a percentage point a week. If this trend continues, the “yes” vote would sit at 39.6% on October 14, 5.5 percentage points below the “yes” vote in the republic referendum.</p> <p>If “yes” were to prevail on October 14, it would take a colossal reversal in public sentiment, or it would indicate there’s been a stupendously large, collective polling error. Or perhaps both.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe style="width: 100%;" src="https://simonjackman.github.io/poll_averaging_voice_2023/level_plot_standalone.html" width="100%" height="688"> </iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>What’s happening in the news and social media?</h2> <p>Using Meltwater data, we have seen a massive spike in Voice media coverage since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the referendum date at the end of August.</p> <p>In the most recent week we analysed, from September 14-21, we saw a huge jump of mentions of the Voice to Parliament (2.86 million) in print media, radio, TV and social media. This compares to about a quarter million mentions in the first week of the “yes” and “no” campaigns, which we documented in our <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-no-campaign-is-dominating-the-messaging-on-the-voice-referendum-on-tiktok-heres-why-212465">last report</a> of this series monitoring both campaigns.</p> <p>Voice coverage now constitutes 6.7% of all Australian media reporting, up from 4.2% in week one. To put that in perspective, mentions of Hugh Jackman’s marriage split from Deborra-Lee Furness comprised 1.5% of total weekly coverage, while mentions of the AFL and NRL amounted to 4.1% and 1.7%, respectively.</p> <p>Media coverage of the Voice peaked on September 17 with 38,000 mentions, thanks to widespread coverage of the “yes” rallies that day around the country.</p> <p>This was followed closely by 35,000 Voice mentions the next day, led by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s <a href="https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/voice-to-parliament/voice-will-see-lawyers-in-sydney-and-melbourne-get-richer-dutton/video/40349a54a9f0c2f48baec7ba7263a000">claim</a> on Sky News that a Voice to parliament would see lawyers in Sydney and Melbourne “get richer” through billions of dollars worth of treaty negotiations.</p> <p>Our analysis of X (formerly Twitter) data provides further insight to these trends, showing the nationwide “yes” rallies on September 17 received the most public engagement about the Voice during the week we analysed.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=269&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=269&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=269&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549754/original/file-20230922-21-tp54x2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">X (Twitter) data accessed via Meltwater.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Author provided</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <h2>Who is advertising online?</h2> <p>This week, we specifically turned our attention to the online advertising spending of the campaigns. We also examined the types of disinformation campaigns appearing on social media, some of which are aimed at the Australian Electoral Commission, similar to the anti-democratic disinformation campaigns that have roiled the US.</p> <p>The main online advertising spend is on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms. We have real-time visibility of this spending thanks to the ad libraries of Meta and Google.</p> <p>The Yes23 campaign has far outspent any other Voice campaigner on these platforms. In the last three months, its advertising expenditure exceeds $1.1 million, compared to just under $100,000 for Fair Australia, the leading “no” campaign organisation.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=241&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=241&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=241&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=303&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=303&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549942/original/file-20230925-23-7tl134.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=303&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Top five Voice campaign spenders on Facebook and Instagram since June 2023.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Meta ad library</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <p>Yes23 has also released a far greater number of new ads in September (in excess of 3,200) on both platforms, compared to Fair Australia’s 52 new ads. The top five spenders from both sides are listed below.</p> <p>As early voting nears, this graph shows Yes23 ad spending outpaced Fair Australia on both Google and Meta platforms in week three, as well.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=484&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=484&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=484&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=608&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=608&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549762/original/file-20230922-23-1bi7ov.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=608&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Campaign ad spending on digital platforms from Sept. 14-21.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Authors provided.</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <p>The advertising spending data shows how drastically different the strategies of the two main campaigns are. Yes23’s approach is an ad blitz, blanketing the nation with hundreds of ads and experimenting with scores of different messages.</p> <p>In contrast, the “no” side has released far fewer ads with no experimentation. The central message is about “division”, mostly delivered by the lead “no” campaigner, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price. All but eight of the ads released by the “no” side in September feature a personal message by Price arguing that the referendum is “divisive” and “the Voice threatens Aussie unity.”</p> <p>To win, “yes” requires a majority of voters nationwide, as well as a majority of voters in a majority of states. The “no” side is strategically targeting its ads to the two states it believes are most likely in play – South Australia and Tasmania. It only needs to win one of these states to ensure the “yes” side fails.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=797&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=797&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=797&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1001&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1001&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549949/original/file-20230925-20-zgr4wg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1001&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Campaign ad spend on Meta platforms across the states since mid-August. (Dark blue = greater the ad spend).</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Author provided</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <h2>Referendum disinformation</h2> <p>The Meltwater data also reveal a surge in misinformation and disinformation targeting of the AEC with American-style attacks on the voting process.</p> <p>Studies show disinformation surrounding the referendum has been <a href="https://osf.io/qu2fb/">prevalent</a> on X since at least March. To mitigate the harms, the AEC has established a <a href="https://www.aec.gov.au/media/disinformation-register-ref.htm">disinformation register</a> to inform citizens about the referendum process and call out falsehoods.</p> <p>We’ve identified three types of disinformation campaigns in the campaign so far.</p> <p>The first includes attempts to redefine the issue agenda. Examples range from the false <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-02/fact-check-indigenous-australians-support-for-the-voice/102673042">claims</a> that First Nations people do not overwhelmingly support the Voice to <a href="https://stephenreason.substack.com/p/the-voice-to-parliament-the-united">conspiracy myths</a> about the Voice being a globalist land grab.</p> <p>These falsehoods aim to influence vote choice. This disinformation type is not covered in the AEC’s register, as the organisation has no provisions to enforce truth in political advertising.</p> <p>The register does cover a second type of disinformation. This includes spurious claims about the voting process, such as that the referendum is voluntary. This false claim aims to depress voter turnout in yet another attempt to influence the outcome.</p> <p>Finally, a distinct set of messages targets the AEC directly. The aim is to undermine trust in the integrity of the vote.</p> <p>A most prominent example was Dutton’s <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/voice-voting-rules-confusion-stinks-dutton-20230824-p5dz41">suggestion</a> the voting process was “rigged” due to the established rule of counting a tick on the ballot as a vote for “yes”, while a cross will not be accepted as a formal vote for “no”. Sky News host Andrew Bolt <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1256952825005993">echoed</a> this claim in his podcast, which was repeated on social media, reaching 29,800 viewers in one post.</p> <p>Attention to the tick/cross issue spiked on August 25 when the AEC <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/aug/25/indigenous-voice-to-parliament-referendum-aec-poll-unfairness-claims-rejected">refuted</a> the claim (as can be seen in the chart below). Daily Telegraph columnist and climate change denialist Maurice Newman then linked the issue to potential <a href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/maurice-newman-aec-rules-on-voting-could-create-confusion-uncertainty/news-story/c76bc3e1e031c2f349710dd1e9f3b51e?btr=15aad1c65d873d8f896d09618a96e228">voter fraud</a>, mimicking US-style attacks on the integrity of voting systems.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=267&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=267&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=267&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=336&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=336&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/549852/original/file-20230924-23-ob3ltn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=336&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Disinformation attacking AEC or referendum over past month.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Authors provided</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <p>The volume of mentions of obvious disinformation on media and social media may not be high compared to other mentions of the Voice. However, studies show disinformation disproportionately grabs people’s attention due to the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0224-y">cognitive attraction</a> of pervasive negativity, the focus on threats or arousal of disgust.</p> <p>All three types of disinformation campaigns attacking this referendum should concern us deeply because they <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00104140231193008">threaten trust</a> in our political institutions, which undermines our vibrant democracy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213749/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrea-carson-924"><em>Andrea Carson</em></a><em>, Professor of Political Communication, Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/max-gromping-1466451">Max Grömping</a>, Senior Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-strating-129115">Rebecca Strating</a>, Director, La Trobe Asia and Associate Professor, La Trobe University, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-jackman-310245">Simon Jackman</a>, Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-yes-voice-campaign-is-far-outspending-no-in-online-advertising-but-is-the-message-getting-through-213749">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Misinformation and the Voice: how can you spot and defuse false claims?

<p>On 14 October, Australians will vote in their first referendum in 24 years.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>The question – whether to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament – has been hotly debated for much of this year already, and campaigning will ramp up for both the Yes and No votes in coming weeks.</p> <p><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/what-if-instead-of-blaming-readers-of-misinformation-we-showed-them-how-to-tell-the-difference-between-facts-and-falsehoods/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" data-type="link" data-id="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/what-if-instead-of-blaming-readers-of-misinformation-we-showed-them-how-to-tell-the-difference-between-facts-and-falsehoods/">Misinformation</a> and <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid/inoculating-against-disinformation/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" data-type="link" data-id="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid/inoculating-against-disinformation/">disinformation</a> about the referendum have also been circulating, both on- and offline.</p> <p>What should we be keeping an eye out for, and what are the best methods of dealing with misinformation? <em>Cosmos</em> investigates.</p> <p>“There’s a whole field unto itself on how you classify misinformation,” says Dr Natasha van Antwerpen, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Adelaide.</p> <p>It can vary “from the very blatant, absolute lie, through to something that, even if all the facts are correct, the actual impression that you get is not true”, she says.</p> <p>It’s particularly difficult to see if you’re dealing with statements about the future – such as, ‘a Yes or No vote will cause this thing to happen’.</p> <p>“With prediction, it can be really challenging, because you don’t really have a ground truth to work with,” says van Antwerpen.</p> <p>“Things that you can always look out for tend to be: if it’s a really extreme statement, if there’s no degree of uncertainty in the prediction, and sometimes if it’s very obviously feeding into a politicised narrative, that can be a bit of a red flag.”</p> <p>Acknowledging uncertainty is often a better sign that the information is true, says van Antwerpen, as is checking someone’s citations.</p> <p>“What are the bases that they’re making those predictions on? Have they actually got solid research evidence behind the predictions that they’re making, as opposed to speculation?”</p> <p>While the actions both campaigns want people to take in this referendum are very simple – either vote yes, or no – they rest on a very complicated cultural context.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of things that are feeding into people’s decision making that don’t just come from the campaign, they have extraordinary long legacies in Australia,” says Dr Clare Southerton, a lecturer in digital technology and pedagogy at La Trobe University.</p> <p>“When you’re trying to inform people, they’re always going to be interpreting it through their own lens. And that’s how misinformation is able to circulate so rapidly: people respond to it in emotional ways, because they’re coming to it from their own personal histories.”</p> <p>What’s the best way to deal with misinformation if you do come across it?</p> <p>“I wish there was a simple answer,” says Southerton.</p> <p>“Unfortunately, research shows that at this point there is really no <em>most</em> successful strategy.”</p> <p>That said, there are things that work in different circumstances. Southerton says that on social media, reporting the misinformation is a reliable strategy. “When misinformation is mass-reported, it does get taken down – unfortunately, not usually before many, many eyeballs have seen it.”</p> <p>What about your friend or relative who’s dead-set on a stance you know is factually incorrect? Southerton says that while, once again, there’s no method with strong evidence proving it to be the best, connecting with the person “on an emotional level” often helps change their beliefs.</p> <p>“If you can think about where they might be coming from, and connect with them on that level, that’s going to be the most successful. Because we know that people share misinformation because the position that the misinformation has taken makes them feel good,” says Southerton.</p> <p>Southerton warns against “debunking” by simply telling someone that they’re wrong.</p> <p>“Correcting someone, or fact checking, feels good to us, but often shames the person who’s shared the misinformation and can radicalise them further.”</p> <p>This doesn’t mean you need to legitimise their viewpoint.</p> <p>“Try and think about ways that you can humanise your position to them,” says Southerton.</p> <p>“Ultimately, this is a very emotional time for Aboriginal people in Australia, to have these kinds of debates happening about them in a way that can open up conversation for extreme racism to happen in the public sphere.</p> <p>“So it’s really important that we don’t legitimise that racism. But at the same time, […] what is actually successful, as a way to combat misinformation, is about connecting with people who are sharing it, and seeing what ways we can best reach them.”</p> <p>For people who deal with a lot of misinformation professionally, van Antwerpen says it’s important to choose which myths to debunk – you won’t be able to fight every single false statement.</p> <p>Once chosen, she recommends <a href="https://www.climatechangecommunication.org/debunking-handbook-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>The Debunking Handbook</em></a> by Stephan Lewandowsky for evidence-based advice on challenging myths.</p> <p>In general, “you want to start with the facts in a very clear way, so you want it to be as concise as possible,” she says.</p> <p>“We used to say ‘never repeat the misinformation’, but that’s changed a bit now. Generally, it’s best to warn that you’re going to say misinformation, and then just say it once.”</p> <p>Then, van Antwerpen says it’s very important to explain why the misinformation is wrong.</p> <p>“Our brains like to have some sort of explanation. If we don’t have something to fill the gap that’s left when we correct the misinformation, it will just go back to the misinformation.”</p> <p>Being conscious of political narratives, without feeding them and getting more polarised, is important too.</p> <p>“When we present these really polarised arguments, people often tend to either polarise or they’ll get apathetic and drop out,” says van Antwerpen.</p> <p>“So if you’re looking at informing people, it’s finding how can you communicate it in a way that’s not encouraging that split.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/misinformation-voice-referendum/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/ellen-phiddian/">Ellen Phiddian</a>. </em></p> </div>

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"Ignore, delete and report": Cruel Medicare scam on the rise

<p>The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch has warned Aussies against a suspicious Medicare email going around claiming that their services have been suspended. </p> <p>The email states that Medicare services have been suspended because of incomplete customer medical records and contains a link for them to update their medical records to access the service. </p> <p>“Fake emails impersonating Medicare are doing the rounds claiming Medicare services have been suspended," a spokesperson for the consumer watchdog wrote in a tweet.</p> <p>“Ignore the email and the instruction to reactivate your Medicare services — it’s a scam.”</p> <p>"Ignore, delete, and report to Scamwatch." </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/scamalert?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#scamalert</a>: Fake emails impersonating Medicare are doing the rounds claiming Medicare services have been suspended. <br />Ignore the email and the instruction to reactivate your Medicare services - it's a scam. <br />Ignore, delete, and report to Scamwatch <a href="https://t.co/qPicjZTOSW">https://t.co/qPicjZTOSW</a> <a href="https://t.co/8UhY7JnlFk">pic.twitter.com/8UhY7JnlFk</a></p> <p>— NASC Scamwatch (@Scamwatch_gov) <a href="https://twitter.com/Scamwatch_gov/status/1689849418793566208?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 11, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Services Australia also advised customers to beware of emails and texts that sound urgent, make promises of financial benefit, and threaten with fines, debts or jail. </p> <p>“If you’ve clicked on a suspicious link or given your personal information to a scammer, call our <a href="https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/phone-us?context=64107" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk</a>,” the website states. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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Police reveal details of the online profile of Australia's worst ever paedophile

<p dir="ltr">The former Queensland childcare worker who has been charged with sexually abusing dozens of children boasted in an online profile about his love of “meaningful experiences” with kids. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 45-year-old Gold Coast man was <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/unfathomable-former-childcare-worker-facing-1-623-child-abuse-charges" target="_blank" rel="noopener">charged</a> last week with 1623 child abuse offences, including 136 charges of raping pre-pubescent girls, with the alleged offences relate to 87 children in Australia and four overseas, and includes 110 counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the man cannot be named until his case is committed to trial, many parents of the victims have discovered an online profile for his previous employer in which the man boasted about his childcare experience. </p> <p dir="ltr">In it, the man talked about his professional skills and discussed how he helped children “develop their identities”, saying he was a “firm believer in play-based learning as well as inquiry”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I love engaging children in meaningful experiences that inspire their play and learning,” the post read. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I am particularly fascinated by how children use creative languages such as drawing, building, painting and music to express themselves and develop their identity.”</p> <p dir="ltr">He said “young children are natural inquirers” who “explore the world through their senses, seeking answers and building theories”, adding that “as an early childhood teacher I hope to share this journey, learning side by side with children and inspiring them”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough said the investigation into the man’s crimes and a larger paedophile ring is still ongoing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Those charges carry life imprisonment. Once this man faces the AFP charges here in Queensland, we will be seeking his extradition,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is one of the most horrific child abuse cases that I‘ve seen in nearly 40 years of policing.” </p> <p dir="ltr">“We are absolutely committed to prosecuting anyone who comes after our most vulnerable.”</p> <p dir="ltr">If the man is convicted of all his alleged crimes, he will be named the worst paedophile in Australian history. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: ABC</em></p>

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