Explainer – top six scams to watch out for in 2024

  • Scams

NAB shares the top six scams to watch out for in 2024, including AI voice impersonation scams.

  • 11.01.2024
  • Time to read 1 min read


AI voice impersonation scams

How the scam works

AI voice impersonation scams are a new version of 2022’s ‘Hi Mum’ scam. While Hi Mum was text message-based, these scams involve a person receiving a phone call from a “loved one” in “distress”. The loved one might claim they’ve been beaten up or kidnapped and won’t be freed unless the person sends money.

NAB Manager Advisory Awareness Laura Hartley said the scams could be created with as little as three seconds of audio taken from a social media profile, voicemail or video on a website.

“While we haven’t had any reports of our customers being impacted by AI voice scams to date, we know they are happening in the UK and US, in particular, and anticipate it’s just a matter of time before these scams head down under,” Ms Hartley said.

“These scams use readily available technology, yet still require criminals to find a link between the person receiving the phone call and the person in ‘distress’ so they’re harder to scale than other scams.”

Red flags to look for

  • Unexpected phone calls from a “loved one” in “distress”.
  • Urgency asking you to make a payment.
  • Requests for secrecy from the “loved one” not to tell anyone else what’s happened.

How to protect yourself

  • If it’s someone you “know” is calling you asking for a payment, and you aren’t sure it’s legitimately them, disconnect the call, and ring them directly before sending money.
  • Review your social media profiles regularly. Take the time to see if your profile is locked. Go through your friends and connections.
  • Set up multi-factor authentication on social media accounts to reduce risk of ‘takeovers’.
  • Change how you think about consent forms. Take the time to be clear on what you’re signing up to and if it includes using photos or video of you or your child on websites, social media platforms or similar.

Term deposit investment scams

How the scam works

Criminals know many Australians are currently feeling cost of living pressures and have responded with term deposit scams promising lucrative returns.

Ms Hartley said term deposit scams were a type of investment scam impersonating banks or financial companies.

“Investment scams are consistently among the top scams impacting our customers,” Ms Hartley said.

“This version involves criminals impersonating banks or financial companies with fixed term deposits with impressive rates, glossy brochures, and professional follow up.

“We had a business bank customer nearly lose $200,000 to a ‘Citibank’ term deposit offering 6.8%.

“We also had a Tasmanian customer come into a branch wanting to transfer $80,000 to an investment firm in Perth with a rate of 12%,” she said.

“In both instances, a banker spotted the red flags, had lengthy conversations with the customer and was able to stop the crime before it happened.”

Red flags to look for

  • Someone contacting you out of the blue with a term deposit investment opportunity.
  • Term deposit claims to ‘beat inflation’ or offer guaranteed high returns.
  • Term deposit rates are higher than rates on similar products.
  • Advisor “helping” you claims they don’t need an Australian Financial Services (AFS) license.

How to protect yourself

  • Seek independent legal advice, or financial advice from a financial advisor registered with ASIC.
  • Independently find the contact details of the person you’re speaking to.
  • Get a second opinion from someone you trust.
  • Look for reviews of the term deposit offer.
  • Search online for the company or term deposit offer and the word “scam”.
  • Search ASIC’s investor alert list, which includes suspicious companies, businesses and websites.
  • Check the BSB before you transfer money to confirm the name of the payee.

Remote access scams using chat

How the scam works

Remote access scams continue to be among the top scams NAB customers currently report. While traditionally involving a phone call, we’re seeing an emerging trend of web chats.

These scams involve criminals convincing people to download an app or software, which allows remote access to your computer. Once in the computer, the criminals then find your banking log on details and other personal information.

Ms Hartley said these scams could net scammers significant amounts of money in minutes.

“We anticipate criminals will continue to target Australian consumers and businesses with remote access scams in 2024. That’s because the losses often run into tens of thousands of dollars, compared to other scams where the criminals might net $500 or $1,000,” she said.

Red flags to look for

  • Pop up messages on your device saying it’s been compromised and urging you to contact a number where an operator will ask you to download software to “fix the issue”.
  • Calls out of the blue from a well-known business, telco or government agency requesting access to your device to remove a “virus” or “fix an issue”.

How to protect yourself

  • Never give an unexpected person remote access to your computer or online bank accounts.
  • Never share any SMS codes you receive from your bank.
  • If you aren’t sure if contact is legitimate, hang up or delete the text message or email. Contact the organisation using details you have found yourself.
  • Update your computer software and apps regularly.

Romance scams

How the scam works

Romance scammers set out to steal your heart in order to steal your money. These scams often start via social media platforms or dating apps.

The more traditional variety can go on for months, or even years, while others can happen quickly and result in requests for you to share compromising, nude images. The criminal will then immediately threaten to make them public unless you pay them.

Ms Hartley said while many long-lasting relationships started online, it was important to know how to spot a scammer from a potential partner.

“These criminals prey on people looking to find love or a hook up and these scams can have devastating effects, both financial and emotional,” she said.

Red flags to look for

  • Social media or dating profile is inconsistent with what you see and hear when you talk or chat to the person.
  • The person you’re talking to suggests moving the conversation from social media platforms or dating app to a private chat or channel.
  • The person you’re talking to expresses strong emotions for you almost straight away and becomes sexual in nature.
  • A request for money for medical, travel or business emergencies
  • You’re pressured to send nude photos or videos.
  • The person you’re talking makes excuses about their webcam not working.

How to protect yourself

  • Do not transfer money.
  • Stop all contact with the person.
  • Do a reverse image search of photos you’re sent on a search engine like Google or TinEye to see if they’ve been used on other platforms or linked to other names online.
  • Seek advice and information from trusted sources like the eSafety Commissioner if asked to send nude photos.
  • Report what’s happened to your bank, police and social media platforms.
  • Contact IDCARE, a national cyber and identity support service that provides free, confidential advice for individuals.

Ticket scams

How the scam works

A big summer of music, sport and entertainment creates an opportunity for criminals steal money via ticket scams.

A type of buying and selling scam that often start on social media platforms, criminals often respond to fans who post looking for tickets or even list fake ones online themselves.

There have also been instances of scammers hacking social media profiles and selling bogus concert tickets to the account owner’s friends, who aren’t aware someone else is controlling the account.

Ms Laura Hartley said ticket scams played on people’s fear of missing out.

“We’ve recently introduced more proactive alerts in the NAB app or internet banking to help Aussies identify potential ticket scams,” she said.

“The alerts – which may be triggered if a payment shows signs that it could be a scam – are designed to get customers to stop and consider in the moment where they’re about to send money.”

Red flags to look for

  • Tickets for an in-demand concert or event are for sale on social media.
  • The tickets are heavily discounted or cheaper than retail price.
  • Social media profiles selling tickets that are newly created, based overseas, have random usernames or furiously re-tweet.
  • Seller claims they can prove tickets are legit, by sending you emails or screenshots.
  • The seller wants you to pay via cryptocurrency or direct money transfer.

How to protect yourself

  • Look for tickets through official resellers.
  • If possible, pick up the phone and talk to the seller directly before sending money.
  • Remember, if the price of tickets sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Review the seller’s profile in detail to see when it was created, how active they are and if they have any reviews.
  • Be sceptical. Do a reverse image search and if you see the same image of tickets or proof of purchase on other websites, it’s probably a scam.
  • Consider how you pay for tickets. Private sales don’t offer buyers any protection if the ticket isn’t real.

QR code phishing scams

How the scam works

QR codes had a resurgence during the pandemic and have become a new lure for phishing scams.

QR phishing – also known as ‘quishing’ – involves criminals trying to get you to hand over personal information or download malware so they can steal your money or details.

Instead of tricking you into providing personal details by clicking on a link in a text message or email like traditional phishing, scammers hide malicious links in the pixelated squares of QR codes.

Ms Hartley said scammers used a plethora of ways to target people with QR phishing.

“QR phishing can appear as emails claiming a package hasn’t been delivered or that there’s a problem with your account and allows criminals to target thousands of people at once,” she said.

“Criminals can also hide dodgy links in QR codes in places like parking payment stations, restaurant menus and signs for free public wi-fi.”

Red flags to look for

  • Being asked to scan an unsolicited QR codes you receive via email, text, or social media from unknown or untrusted sources.
  • Being asked to download apps or files after scanning a QR code.
  • Being asked to give permission to your mobile phone or computer’s camera, location, microphone or accessibility features after scanning a QR code.
  • Look for tampering of QR codes in public like a restaurant or car park to make sure a sticker hasn’t been placed on top of a legitimate code.

How to protect yourself

  • Be very suspicious of QR codes from unexpected sources. If in doubt, delete it.
  • Look for typos and spelling mistakes in the URL address.
  • Keep your phone and computer updated with the latest version of apps and trusted anti-virus software.

Spotting AI scams – The Today Show

NAB Chief Digital Officer Suj Rana shares top tips for spotting scams that use AI in 2024.

Australians heading overseas for a European or North American summer are being urged to get scam savvy – read the top three travel scams to watch out for when on holiday.

Stay up to date with the latest scams and fraud advice available on NAB’s security hub.

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