WHAT TO WATCH: Stanthorpe police have warned residents to stay alert online as scams increase.
WHAT TO WATCH: Stanthorpe police have warned residents to stay alert online as scams increase.

SCAM WATCH: Police warning against online fraudsters

STANTHORPE police are warning residents to remain vigilant against cyber attacks after spike in online scams.

On average, two to three people per week report being the victim of scams across the Granite Belt.

Acting officer-in-charge Shane Gleeson said he’d seen residents lose “tens of thousands of dollars” to fraudsters.

Sergeant Gleeson said overseas scammers preyed on vulnerable people.

“There’s a lot that rely on lonely hearts and sort of people who are looking for relationships,” Sgt Gleeson said.

“You try to inform and educate them but even when we’re doing that, people are holding onto hope that it’s a legitimate relationship, despite everyone telling them it’s a scam.

“It can be heartbreaking for some people.”

The elaborate nature of some scams has meant no age group has been left untouched, Sgt Gleeson said, with anyone with a computer in the firing line.

Sgt Gleeson warned that scams involving iTunes cards as payments were never legitimate.
Sgt Gleeson warned that scams involving iTunes cards as payments were never legitimate.

However, Sgt Gleeson said residents should flag out-of-the-ordinary requests with family or friends.

“If people are contacting you saying you have a warrant from the tax office and you can pay with iTunes cards, it is a scam,” he said.

“We don’t accept payments by those sorts of means.”

Sgt Gleeson said victims of scams almost never see their money again with fraudsters often untraceable.

“It seems to come and go in waves. The difficulty is that a lot of the offenders are from overseas,” he said.

“And in terms of us being able to pursue them, it’s just not going to happen.

“They can be referred to Cyber Crime units but unfortunately because most of the offenders are overseas, it’s hard for us to police.”

Here are Sgt Gleeson’s tips to identifying and avoiding scammers:

1. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is

2. Don’t be afraid to ask police if you have a concern

3. No government agency will accept iTunes cards as payments

4. If you’re not sure, don’t do it

5. Seek advice from a trusted friend or someone who is aware of scams

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