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One demographic in Orange is most likely to be scammed. Here's why


Attendees are asked to pick scam correspondence from genuine communications, at an event hosted by Orange Credit Union at The Canobolas Hotel, March 3, 2022.. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes


It wasn’t quite the answer Orange Credit Union boss Andrew de Graaff was expecting when he asked a question of about 30 people attending the financial institution’s Thursday morning forum on modern-day scams.


“Anyone can get targeted, all ages, genders, but unfortunately most of the dollars lost are from people over 65, and [mostly] males,” de Graaff said.


“Why the older generation, why men?” he asked.

“Because men run the show,” came the matter-of-fact response from an elderly woman in the audience.


“Thank you,” said the CEO, smiling. “They don’t anymore; I’m the father of three daughters.”


In a delicate segue, he added: “It used to be that men were the ones that were in charge of the finances, but why men now? Anyone?”




Silence.


“Where is most of the money?" de Graaff continued. "In your super. And many people in older generations have built up assets, savings. They may have built their wealth over time, so a chunk of it is pretty much sitting there.


“The younger generations don't generally have as much; if you think of a scammer, are you going to try and scam someone out of $2,000 or scam them out of $20,000 or $200,000?”

Orange Credit Union CEO Andrew de Graaff speaks at The Canobolas Hotel, March 3, 2022.. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

It wasn’t just about the pot of money.


“There's another thing, too, which is a harsh reality,” said de Graaff. "Unfortunately males are scammed the most because they are also lonely. {Scammers] prey on vulnerability.”



Pretty much everyone who has a mobile phone, an email address or a social media account is targeted by scams. Popular today are SMS scams advising that a parcel is ready to collect, malicious links sent via Facebook friends, or phone calls aimed at extracting personal information.


“Technology is not the problem,” said de Graaff. “Internet banking, email, SMS - they are not the problem.

“Unfortunately the problem is [scammers] will prey upon your good nature, they will prey upon your fear, to get you to do something you ordinarily wouldn’t do.”





Ahead of the forum, de Graaff told The Orange News Examiner that Orange Credit Union received up to a couple of calls daily from customers phoning to check if something was legitimate.



State MP Phil Donato speaks with concerned locals. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

“It could be about making a payment, someone calling them insisting they have an outstanding payment, or a Facebook puppy scam,” he said.


“We’ve had people getting called [by scammers] to say they’ve been compromised and need to download software to protect themselves.”



He said recovering funds was not always a matter of course, particularly as the money may have quickly been funnelled into a foreign jurisdiction.





State MP Phil Donato spoke briefly and personalised his experience with scammers.


He said that in recent years he and his sister had found it necessary to remind their elderly parents, who live in Orange, to hang up when a landline phone call didn’t feel right, or was preceded by seconds of silence before somebody spoke.

“If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is,” he told the audience. “When someone rings you at home or sends an email, be very, very suspicious, because there are scammers looking to rip off hard-working people - people who may not be as computer-savvy.”



Donato said that in a previous life as a police prosecutor he dealt with con artists, and that not only were scammers difficult to successfully prosecute, but that once people had given their money away it was hard to recover.


During the session advice was given about phishing, flubots and email spoofing.



Detective senior constable Megan Duckworth from Orange police gives tips to the audience. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Detective senior constable Megan Duckworth, who is stationed in Orange, welcomed the opportunity to get out of the office and speak to people who were “nice”.


“A lot of my time I dedicate to investigating financial crime, especially here in Orange,” she said.


“There are people in the community who are committing these crimes and also people who are falling victim to the crimes.


“I find a fair bit of joy in helping people see matters through to court, and a bit of justice occasionally. The magistrate here in town doesn't like fraud, which works for me and this community.”

She said the figure of $300 million lost to scams nationwide last year was underestimating the true amount.


“Not everyone reports what happened to them and their finances. It really is embarrassing when you fall victim to a scam or lose money.”


Duckworth said that in a conversation with her father last weekend he revealed that he had received a call allegedly from MasterCard wanting to take some of his money. Only it wasn’t from MasterCard, but a scammer.




“It happens to everyone,” she said.


For more information see the ACCC’s Scamwatch and Orange Credit Union’s tips on avoiding scammers.

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