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A spotlight on scams at national Law Week 2022

by Nastasha Tupas
25 May 2022 | 1 minute read

With the ACSC categorising half the fallout of cyber security breaches “substantial” in impact, Shannon Fentiman, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in Queensland, has highlighted the significant increase in scams, including a key aim of Law Week 2022, which is focused on raising awareness about how lawyers and the community can stay safe online.

In a Lawyers Weekly Podcast interview, Attorney-General Fentiman commented that "there is a low level of awareness" to the pervasiveness of scams.

"That's why we've chosen to use Law Week, to highlight the prevalence of scams.

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"If something seems too good to be true, it probably is, to know who you're dealing with, if you've only ever met someone online, or you're unsure of the legitimacy of a business, do your research."

"If you're unsure about links in emails, just delete them, don't respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access and then, of course, all of the things we know about keeping our personal information and details secure," Attorney-General Fentiman said.

Law Week is an annual Australia-wide event aimed at demystifying the legal system, underscore the importance of the legal sector, while raising awareness about how the lawyers and the community can connect.

With the ACSC recording 67,500 cyber crime reports between 2020 and 2021, Law Week 2022 set out to educate consumers of their rights if impacted by a scam and empower them to seek legal advice to help protect the community against the rising criminal activity online.

Scams are becoming big business, Attorney-General Fentiman further explained, due to the increasingly broad and sophisticated platforms scammers are using to target victims, which include social media, messaging apps, texts and emails.

ISCOVER

"Particularly in the wake of such devastating natural disasters that we've seen here in Queensland and New South Wales with the floods, there's a lot of scammers who are quick to take advantage of really vulnerable people in a very vulnerable situation.

"We thought it was a good opportunity with Law Week in May to really highlight the increase of these scams, and perhaps how lawyers can help consumers and provide advice, but also for lawyers and law firms to be aware about how they themselves can be affected," Attorney-General Fentiman told the Lawyers Weekly Podcast.

The state of Queensland in particular, Attorney-General Fentiman noted, has been targeted by scammers following COVID and the natural disasters that had hit the sunshine state over the past year.  

"Australians altogether lost $95 million to scams.

"It is something that's increasing right across the country, and that's just what's being reported.

"The Office of Fair Trading in Queensland has had a really big focus on reporting scams, and that also could contribute to why Queensland is seeing higher numbers," Attorney-General Fentiman said.

COVID also saw an uptick in "puppy scammers". 

"Everyone being stuck at home, working from home, people thought, well, now's the time to get a family pet.

"People were paying thousands of dollars online for pets that never existed, and the scams were so elaborate.

"It's interesting how people take advantage of people in quite vulnerable situations," Attorney-General Fentiman added.

In line with the ACSC data, more than 75 per cent of pandemic-related cyber crimes have been reported by Aussies that lost money or personal information. Fraud, online shopping scams and online banking scams were the most reported cyber crime types and almost 500 ransomware cyber crime reports, which signified an increase of about 15 per cent in comparison to the previous financial year.

However, the numbers officially recorded by the ACSC could be much higher, with Attorney-General Fentiman urging people who have been affected by a scam or fraud to report it.

"I think there's a lot of shame in talking about the fact that you've been scammed, or you've fallen for a scam, there's a lot of stigma around scams, and we do need people to come forward and share their stories.

"So many scams go unreported.

"I think lawyers in the community talking about how they are not immune from scams will give other people the confidence to come forward."

[Related: UK attorney general: Defensive cyber attacks ‘justifiable’]

 

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans affairs, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. She is a co-author of a book titled The Stories Women Journalists Tell, published by Penguin Random House. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. Nastasha started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.

A spotlight on scams at national Law Week 2022
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