Unexpected money scams

What are they?

These sort of scams:

  • usually promise you a significant share of a large sum of money, or other reward, in return for a small up-front payment
  • request your personal financial details, and
  • are also known as ‘advance fee fraud’ scams.

What to look out for

There are different types of unexpected money scams, but they all promise the lure of some greater reward – which could be:

Other signs to look out for:

  • You receive an unexpected message by email, text message or other online method that promises an extraordinary reward or opportunity (for example, you’ve won a lottery that you don’t remember entering or you’re offered an unbelievably good business opportunity).
  • You’re told that you need to pay an up-front fee or provide personal details to receive a much greater reward.
  • The offer looks convincing and may use official-looking letterhead and logos, but it isn’t addressed to you personally, it pressures you to make a decision quickly, and it may also contain spelling and grammatical errors.
  • You’re asked to provide your bank account details, copies of identity documents as verification, and to pay a series of fees, charges or taxes to help release or transfer the money out of the country, through your bank.

Tips to protect yourself

There are a number of different things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Understand that scams exist and use caution online. Be wary of messages that arrive out of the blue – whether it’s through email, social media or other means. Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Do an internet search using the names, contact details or exact wording of the message to see if it has been used as a scam on other people – many scams can be identified this way.
  • Follow our tips for safe behaviour when using the web.
  • Don’t open messages or click on links if you don’t know the sender or if you’re not expecting the message. Watch out for messages that promise you money or present hard luck or exotic stories telling you that you can share in hidden millions of dollars.
  • Use a spam filter to catch fake messages before they get to your inbox and delete spam that does get through without opening it.
  • Don’t accept friend or contact requests on social media from people you don’t know. Scammers may use your information on social media, to make their messages more appealing or appear more genuine.

Get help

Head to our Get Help page for steps you can take quickly to protect yourself from further harm, report the scam, or to seek assistance if you’ve been the victim of identity theft.