CONSUMER Affairs Victoria has urged people to know about common scams used to con the unwary.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission statistics show Victorians last year lost just under $20.5 million to scammers.
Fake bank notes, sham refunds and bogus lottery prizes are among the top scams used to tempt unwary targets to part with their cash for no return.
A trend in recent months involves the “refund” scam which often involves the con artist offering large sums of money in exchange for an upfront payment.
Scammers pretend to be from a bank, organisation or government department, such as the Australian Tax Office, to fool people into paying money or providing their bank details.
There have been more than 400 complaints about money transfer scams to Consumer Affairs Victoria in the past 12 months.
The end of the financial year is considered to be a peak time of year to target people lodging their tax returns. Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said con artists trick honest people into giving up their hard earned money.
“People need to be on guard, especially during tax time, when scammers come out of the woodwork pretending they are from the Australian Tax Office, and claiming you’ll get a tax refund if you pay a fee,” she said.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Consumer Affairs Victoria said people should always be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls or letters saying they have unclaimed funds, won prizes or are owed money.