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Cyber security roadshow to visit Great Southern as number of people affected by scams and money lost soars

Headshot of Kasey Gratton
Kasey GrattonAlbany Advertiser
Albany woman Aurora Casilli lost more than $36,500 of savings in a scam.
Camera IconAlbany woman Aurora Casilli lost more than $36,500 of savings in a scam. Credit: Albany Advertiser

A travelling cyber security clinic will visit Albany and Katanning this week, as a record number of people lost money to scams in WA last year.

National identity and cyber support service IDCARE and the State Government are delivering 20 Cyber Resilience Outreach Clinics across regional WA, beginning in the Great Southern this week.

The clinics will provide support to people impacted by identity theft and other cyber crimes, such as the Optus and Medibank data breaches, and will be tailored to each area.

A CROC clinic will be held in Albany on Tuesday at the Stirling Club from 10.30-11.30am, and a stall will be held at the Katanning Harmony Festival on Saturday.

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Last year a record 1203 West Australians reported total scam losses of $15,988,513 to ScamNet, The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s scam reporting website.

This was an increase of $1,196,805 from the 1041 losses reported in 2021, and a $4,188,513 increase from the 952 losses reported in 2020.

An ACCC survey has indicated only about 13 per cent of scam losses are reported to regulators.

Consumer Protection senior regional officer for the Great Southern Steph Marsh said the figures were the “tip of the iceberg” of the number of scams affecting West Australians.

IDCARE has also found people living in regional and remote communities are three times more likely to be impacted by cyber crime and scams, and lose more money, than those living in metropolitan areas.

Ms Marsh said this was due to several factors.

“Sometimes older people who may not be as IT-savvy can be more susceptible and we suspect we’ve got an older population sometimes in the regions,” she said.

“There’s been some other types of scams that have gone around in the last year or two that have particularly targeted rural communities, such as fake or non-existent farm machinery.

“Because they’re very expensive pieces of equipment, people are looking for the best price and sometimes fake websites selling machinery have popped up.”

In December last year, Albany woman Aurora Casilli lost more than $36,500 when she fell victim to a scam.

Ms Casilli was contacted by a scammer in the same text chain as other messages from her bank, NAB, and transferred her life’s savings to the scammer who posed as a bank employee on a phone call.

After an investigation by NAB, Ms Casilli was offered $3000 as a “full and final resolution” to the scam.

Ms Marsh said anyone who believed they had come across a scam should “practice the pause”.

“If you get a text, email or phone call that you’re not sure about, take your time,” she said.

“Don’t react immediately, that’s what the scammers want you to do, because then you’re not doing your best thinking.

“Practice the pause, and talk to a trusted family member or friend ... and you can talk it through and be able to identify if it’s a scam.”

Scams or suspicious emails and text messages can be reported at the ScamNet website or by calling 1300 30 40 54.

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