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$90m scammed from NSW residents each year

Mathew Mason-Cox.The state’s Fair Trading Minister has renewed calls for Hunter residents not to fall victim to scams.

Mathew Mason-Cox visited Maitland last week to speak with residents about how to recognise scams and how to avoid being stung by them.

He said one in 20 people got scammed in NSW each year and about $90 million was handed to con artists, that the government could track.

“We’re out as part of our outreach program to alert people to scammers and what the latest tricks of the trade are,” Mr Mason-Cox said.

“These guys are very clever, unscrupulous and dogged in the way in which they target people.

“We’re going to a retirement village to make sure that message gets to our older community.

“They are often people that are targeted because they’ve got time, they’ve got a bit of money and, dare I say it, they are very trusting.”

The Mercury reported in January that two men had been knocking on doors of homes in Metford and East Maitland offering residents a free lap top computer from the government.

But in exchange, the residents were asked to hand over personal details such as tax file numbers, Centrelink identification numbers, birth certificates and bank account details.

Mr Mason-Cox said this was one of the most common scams that had been sweeping the state recently.

He said scam phone calls from people who claimed to be from computer company Microsoft were also common.

Mr Mason-Cox said the caller would tell the resident that a virus had been detected on their computer and that they could fix the problem if the resident agreed to pay a fee by credit card.

“They normally take a couple of grand a couple of days later,” he said.

Mr Mason-Cox said there have also been reports that Hunter residents had received bogus emails from people who claimed to be from the Office of State Revenue, which said the person had either been fined or was eligible to reclaim money from the department.

But when victims clicked on the link in the email, malware was put onto their computers which allowed the scammers to track that person’s key strokes.

“Then when you go banking, they get your password and user name and away you go,” Mr Mason-Cox said.

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