‘Ghost scam’ targeting Aussies
WOMEN in Western Australia are the latest to fall prey to an elaborate scam that forces victims to part with their jewellery.
Perth detectives are currently investigating what is known as "the blessing scam" or "the ghost scam" that specifically targets elderly females of Chinese descent.
In a statement issued by WA Police, officers said the scam "relies heavily on cultural and traditional beliefs to instil fear in the victims and assure their compliance".
After identifying a target, the scammer - always a woman - approaches the victim in a public place and tells her that someone from the victim's family is sick and in desperate need of medical assistance, and they can only be healed with eastern medicine.
The woman who kicked off the scam asks the victim if she knows any healers or experts in Eastern Medicine.
That's when a second woman approaches the pair and admits she overheard the two talking and offers a healer she knows.
WA Police said this advice leads to the introduction of the victim to a third woman who claims to be a "healer" and that the problem is that the victim has angered the spirits.
The fake healer says the only way the sickness can be treated is if the victim supplies expensive jewellery to be treated in a "ritual".
During the ritual, the items are replaced with cheap knock-offs but before being returned wrapped in fabric.
The victim is told to leave it wrapped for a long time for the treatment to be effective but when she does eventually unwrap the package, she finds her valuables have been stolen.
At least one woman has reported being a victim to WA Police, who released images of three women officers would like to speak to earlier this week.
The scam has also been reported across a number of states with one woman falling victim in February in NSW.
But the ghost scam isn't the only trick Aussies are being warned to watch out for this week.
Earlier today, the federal government's StaySmartOnline service warned people to watch out for a fake Medicare email that takes users to a cloned MyGov website.
The "phishing" email appears to be from Medicare and when the link is clicked, users are taken to a fake MyGov website.
They're then prompted to login and update their Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) details in order to receive benefits and claims.
"These emails and web pages feature myGov and Medicare design and branding, making them appear legitimate," the StaySmartOnline statement reads.
It advises to follow the following steps to avoid email scams:
- Do not click on links in emails or text messages claiming to be from myGov or Medicare. MyGov will never send you a text, email or attachment with hyperlinks or web addresses.
- Don't open messages if you don't know the sender, or if you're not expecting them.
- Be suspicious of messages that aren't addressed directly to you, or that don't use your correct name.
- Log in to your official myGov account by typing the web address into your browser, to check your inbox for any legitimate emails from Medicare.
- You can also contact the organisation separately to check if they have sent the message.