Aussies lose $10m in phone scam
SCAMMERS impersonating Chinese diplomats have stolen a total of $10 million from fraud victims living in Sydney in the last year, authorities say.
In the scam, which targets Chinese citizens living in Australia, an automated voice speaking in Mandarin claims to be calling on behalf of the Chinese embassy and tells the listener they have an important letter or parcel to collect.
They are encouraged to press 9, at which point they are transferred to a scammer who tries to take their personal details. The scammers appear to be able to spoof their phone number, making it appear as if the call comes from the Chinese consulate in Sydney.
China's Deputy Consul-General in Sydney Tong Xuejun said more than 1000 cases had been reported since August 2017.
"We have confirmed about 40 cases that caused a loss. The total amount of money involved is about $10 million," he said, adding that the money lost ranged from $2000 to one case of $3.5 million.
NSW Police this week urged victims of the phone scam to come forward.
"Anyone who receives such calls should not disclose your personal credit card information or transfer money," Detective Acting Inspector David Gates said at a Sydney press conference on Monday.
"Do not be embarrassed about these frauds. You need to report to the NSW Police so that it can be investigated."
Many Sydneysiders, including non-Chinese speakers, have reported getting the calls and being left confused.
Authorities say most of the victims are female and around 50 per cent are overseas students.
The Chinese Consulate-General has urged Chinese citizens in Australia to be aware of fraudulent calls.
The Chinese Embassy and the Chinese Consulate-General would never call Chinese citizens to inform them to renew their passport, never convey the notice of Chinese Police, banks and other organisations and never require people to provide personal information, such as bank account information.