What is Fraud?

Fraud is broadly defined as an act on behalf of a person that is deceptive or deceitful in some way in that it causes them to receive a benefit that they are not entitled to.  In this way some other person or organisation to suffer some disadvantage.

Fraud in New South Wales is a growing problem.  With the advent of on-line services and the internet fraud can be committed in dozens of ways.

Victims of Fraud

Victims of fraud can sustain significant financial and psychological harm. The result of this can be devastating for businesses and individuals with a huge cost to the Australian economy and society as a whole. Some victims do not report fraud for a variety of reasons including being embarrassed as they might think that Police or family and friends will think less of them. The New South Wales Police Force treats all reports of Fraud as confidential and encourages all victims of crime to report to the police.

Our Duty

Our duty to the people in New South Wales is to try to minimise the amount of fraud and to educate people (both individuals and the business community) about how to minimise risk of fraud affecting you.

The New South Wales Police Force are working with other Australian Government agencies as well as business and community groups to help us address this problem.

Most fraud is investigated at the local level and this form - Fraud Report Form - is required to be completed and lodged prior to an investigation commencing.

Scams are commonplace and they target both businesses and the individual. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission role is to provide information to all Australians in order for them to protect themselves against all types of fraud and scams. The New South Wales Police encourage you to visit their site to familiarise yourself with this type of activity and the latest trends.

Fraud is an ever growing and evolving field. If you have any information about people who are involved in:

  • Fraud
  • The manufacture of fake identification (including importing of equipment to do this)
  • Cheque Washing
  • Mail Theft
  • Creation of bank accounts and drivers licences whilst using fake details,
  • Money laundering
  • Or any other type of fraud

The NSW Police Force encourages you report this to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online.

Dating and romance scams

Dating and romance scams - don't let them break your heart or wallet

Dating and romance scams are very destructive – both financially and emotionally. In 2013, more money was lost to dating and romance scams than any other type of scam, with over $25 million reported lost in Australia - $7.4 Million from NSW alone.

Unfortunately, the scammers have a high rate of success, with 43 per cent of people who reported an approach by an ‘admirer’ losing money – on average over $21,000! These scams also cause significant emotional harm, with many victims reporting a break down in relationships with friends and family.

With the proliferation of online dating websites, forums and social media channels, these scams are moving increasingly into the online space. Online communication channels allow scammers to operate anonymously from anywhere in the world.

Source: Targeting scams: Report of the ACCC on scams activity 2013 - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

How these scams work

Scammers exploit their victim’s emotions in order to take their money. They can be very elaborate hoaxes, sometimes taking years to develop and run by experienced criminal syndicates.

The scammer develops a strong connection with the victim before asking for money to help cover costs associated with a supposed illness, injury, family crisis, travel costs or to pursue a business or investment opportunity.

Scammers often approach their victims on legitimate dating websites before attempting to move the ‘relationship’ away from the safeguards that these sites put in place; communicating through other methods such as email, where they can more easily manipulate victims.

Scammers also target victims through social networking sites, where they ‘like’ them and then express shared interests based on personal information taken from the victim’s profile.

How to stop this happening to you

Keep your personal details personal: Never share personal information or photos with someone you don’t know and trust – especially photos or webcam calls of a private nature. There have been reports of scammers using this material to blackmail victims.

Watch out: If an online admirer asks to communicate with you outside the dating website, such as through a private email address or over the phone, watch out – they could be trying to avoid detection. If you are considering meeting in person, choose a public place and let family or friends know where you are at all times.

Search: Run a Google Image search to check the authenticity of any photos provided. Scammers often use fake photos they’ve found online.

Think twice: Never send money to someone you’ve met online, especially via money order, wire transfer or international funds transfer – it’s rare to recover money sent this way.

Report: If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report Scams

If the scam originates in NSW, you can report this to the NSW Police Force by visiting your local police station or calling the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.

You can report scams to the ACCC via the 'report a scam' page on SCAMwatch. If you met the scammer through a dating service or social media, you should also inform the dating service/social channel of your experience so that they can try and stop the scammer hurting others.

Where to find out more:

Scamwatch - www.scamwatch.gov.au

NSW Fair Trading - www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission - Targeting scams: Report of the ACCC on scams activity 2013 - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) - http://www.accc.gov.au/publications/targeting-scams-report-on-scam-activity

Fraud Prevention Tips

The NSW Police Force has prepared a series of videos and tip sheets to help you protect yourself against various forms of fraud. These are available on our Crime Prevention Tips page.

Fail to Pay for Fuel

To the Service Station Proprietor

The offence of Fail to Pay (also known as Drive-Offs) is an ongoing concern of the service station industry and wider community. The NSW Police Force has a standardised way that these offences are reported by the service station industry to the police. This will assist the police to identify, investigate and prosecute people who commit this crime. Police attendance at every offence of this type is not necessary.

The process has been updated and incidents where no emergency exists and immediate investigation by a police officer is not necessary, can now to be made online via the NSW Police Force Community Portal.

The Process

Access the NSW Police Force Community Portal. You will be asked to provide a valid email address and your details, after selecting the Fraud report, to get started.

I want to report  > Fraud

In order to determine what type of fraud you wish to report online, you, as the service station representative, will need to complete a short questionnaire with yes, no or picklist responses.

Your answers will help direct you to the appropriate online form to complete or will refer you to the appropriate service to report the fraud.

There are caveats on what can be reported online through the NSW Police Force Community Portal. We’ve implemented a triage process at the beginning of each report, so you can be assured your report can be submitted using the portal. You will be asked the following:

Fail to Pay Triage

Do you reside in NSW or did the fail to pay incident occur in NSW?

(No / Yes)

If you select No you will receive the following message:

Please note when submitting this report you are only making a record with the NSW Police Force.

You should also consider making a report with Police in the State/Territory/Country where you or your business are located, or the location of where the goods or service were not paid for.

Alternatively, you can make a report of fraud related to cybercrime via the Australian Government, Australian Cyber Issue Reporting System (CIRS)

If you select Yes you will be asked:

What type of goods or service was not paid for?

(Select – Fuel from the picklist)

Did any occupant of the vehicle (driver or passenger) enter the shop?

(No / Yes)

If you select Yes you will receive the following message:

This incident cannot be reported online, please call Police Assistance Line on 131444, or attend your local Police station.

If you select No you will be asked:

Did any vehicle occupant attempt to pay for the fuel or leave property as security for payment?

(No / Yes)

If you select Yes you will receive the following message:

This incident cannot be reported online, please call Police Assistance Line on 131444, or attend your local Police station.

If you select No you will be asked: CONTINUE

The report will have to be completed to the best of your ability and ideally it would be best if it was completed by the actual witness of the offence. All information sought by Police in the form is critical to any investigation and everything that is recorded is taken into account. The ‘Save as Draft’ feature is located after each section of the report as you work your way through. It is important that the report of the matter is made at the earliest opportunity to maximise the chance of Police being able to identify the person who failed to pay for the fuel product. You will then be directed to complete an online form which asks you to record all the same information that would have been obtained by PoliceLink via the previously used Fail to Pay: Fuel Reporting Form.

The Community Portal provides the ability to upload a wide range of multimedia footage of offenders rather than needing to bring it to a Police Station.

Only when all the required fields have been completed can you submit the report. At that moment you are instantly provided a Community Portal Reference Number. This interim number can be used for insurance claims, or when speaking to police. PoliceLink review each submission and can accept, refuse or seek clarification from you, the service station representative.

Communication with you is an important priority to NSW Police Force. We’ve created our own messaging built right into every report (turned on by default). Once your report is accepted you will receive an official Event number via Email and/or SMS.

If you have selected 'Reporting - Option 2' (electing to have the matter investigated), the report will be assessed at the local police station and Police will make contact about the investigation process. When the investigation commences an officer will contact you to make a time when you will be asked to come to the station to supply a formal statement.

This site also has a number of helpful hints to assist the service station industry to protect itself from fraud and other associated crime.

Identity Theft

Defining Identity Crime

Identity crime is defined by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis (AUSTRAC) Proof of Identity Steering Committee as:

  • A generic term to describe activities/offences in which a perpetrator uses a fabricated identity; a manipulated identity; or a stolen/assumed identity to facilitate the commission of a crime/s

Identity Theft is defined as:

  • The theft or assumption of a pre-existing identity (or significant part thereof), with or without consent and whether, in the case of an individual, the person is living or deceased

How Identity Crime occurs

There are numerous ways in which offenders are able to facilitate identity theft of an individual or Body Corporates and subsequently fabricate and manipulate that identity, including:

  • Theft of mail articles
  • Theft of wallets, bags and purses
  • Skimming of credit and debit cards via ATMs or EFTPOS terminals
  • Internet scams including phishing emails or spoofing sites designed to replicate banking and payment sites
  • Remote access scams giving access to a computer
  • Malicious computer programs such as malware or spyware
  • Ransomware
  • Telemarketing scams
  • Hacking of websites or business servers containing personal information databases
  • Fake online social media profiles

The use of stolen, fabricated or manipulated identities to commit or enable crime has been enhanced by the expansion of new technologies and change in online behaviour.

Identity Theft is organised crime. It is used to facilitate fraud offences but also used for terrorism, drug importation, people smuggling and money laundering.

Cost to Australia

Recent estimates by the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department indicate that identity crime costs Australia upwards of $1.6 billion per year, with the majority ($900m) lost by individuals through credit card fraud, identity theft and scams.

Identity crime continues to be a key enabler of serious and organised crime, which in turn costs Australia around $15 billion annually (source: AFP Identity Crime website)

Extent of Identity Theft

The extent of identity theft is hard to quantify as most victims do not know they are victims until their personal information has already been used, if at all. With increasing levels of fraud, financial institutions have become more experienced in identifying fraud, and can terminate fraudulent transactions often before the victim realises they are a victim.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ‘the scale and impact of personal fraud is hard to measure, due to issues of definition, awareness of victimisation, low reporting rates and inconsistent data recording practices among agencies that detect or deal with these incidents”.

The ABS conducted a national survey from July 2014 to June 2015 about Personal Fraud which covered Identity Theft.

  • In that 12 month period, an estimated 126,300 persons in Australia were victims of identity theft (or 0.7% of the population aged 15 and over).
  • The majority of persons who experienced identity theft experienced a single incident only (103,400 or 82%)

The credit agency VEDA conducted a similar survey in 2015 claiming that 17% of Australians were the victim of identity theft; however the validity of this result is questioned due to a commercial interest by the company.

New South Wales

  • NSW had the highest number of identity theft incidents over the past 5 years of any state (NSW has the highest population of any state)
  • 53% of incidents were reported (the Australian average is 51%)

Who experienced Identity Theft?

  • Persons aged 25 to 34 were most likely to experience identity theft (1.0% or 33,700 persons in that age group) whilst persons aged 55 years and over were the least likely (0.4% or 25,900 persons in that age group).
  • This demographic was supported by the VEDA survey

How identity was stolen

  • Approximately one quarter of victims had their identity stolen over the internet
  • Approximately one quarter of victims were not aware of how their information was stolen

How victims found out about their identity theft

  • 25% became aware after receiving a notification or query from a government agency or authority
  • 12% became aware after receiving a bill from a business or company

Reporting Identity Crime

  • 51% (or 172,300) of all persons who experienced Identity Theft in the five years prior to the ABS survey reported the most recent incident to an authority
  • Only 55,200 persons said they reported the incident to police.
  • That accounts to only 16% of incidents reported to police

Approximately 50% of victims reported that they had changed their behaviour as a result of identity theft including:

  • Becoming more careful or aware
  • Changing credit card details
  • Changing email address
  • Changing payment methods
  • Becoming more apprehensive or withdrawn
  • Changing or installing internet security

What can you do if you are victim of identity crime:

If you've been a victim of Identity theft, contact police on 131 444 for further advice and assistance.

You should also contact your financial institution.

IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand's national identity & cyber support service. Our service is the only one of its type in the world. We've helped thousands of Australians and New Zealand individuals and organisations reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation.

Visit www.idcare.org for more information

Useful Links

  • Stay Smart Online – Australian Government's online safety and security website.
  • Scamwatch – Provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.
  • ASIC – Australian Securities and Investment Commission (Report suspicious Business activity)
  • ACMA – Australian Communications and Media Authority (Report SPAM, unsolicted SMS)
  • ACCC – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Report Scams, large amount of information on consumer awareness information)
  • Reportcyber - Reportcyber, Australian Cyber Security Centre
  • APRA – Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (Oversees conduct of participants of superannuation industry)
  • AFP - Australian Federal Police
  • AusTRAC – Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
  • BDM - NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (information on reducing identity theft)
  • IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity & cyber support service