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Fraud and scam warnings


Beware of attempted frauds using AUSTRAC's name

Telephone scam

AUSTRAC has become aware of a telephone scam by individuals purporting that the victim has won a lottery. The scammers subsequently tell the victim that a ‘package’ in the victim's name, containing illegal goods, has been intercepted by AUSTRAC. The scammers attempt to extort a payment by telling the victim they will be arrested. 

AUSTRAC will never act in the manner described above. If you are contacted in a similar way, do not respond or engage in further communication with the person making the request. 

Report the matter directly to local police and advise AUSTRAC on 1300 021 037.

Penalty fee scam

AUSTRAC has become aware of scams involving the misuse of the AUSTRAC logo and/or the impersonation of AUSTRAC staff.

The scammers, who claim to represent AUSTRAC, may ask members of the public to pay a 'penalty fee' via money transfer to avoid 'prosecution', to release 'a significant money transfer' or for similar fraudulent reasons.

AUSTRAC will never act in the manner described above. AUSTRAC does not:

  • freeze accounts or transactions
  • charge fees to members of the public for the purposes described above.

If you are contacted in a manner similar to those described above, do not respond or engage in further communication with the person making the request. Report the matter directly to local police and advise the AUSTRAC on 1300 021 037.

Onsite assessment scam

AUSTRAC has recently become aware that individuals, claiming to be AUSTRAC employees, are contacting reporting entities saying they are scheduled for an onsite assessment or desk review. These individuals have also attempted to set up meetings with reporting entities.

AUSTRAC does not set up assessment meetings with, or seek personal or confidential information from, reporting entities by telephone. Such communications are always in writing.

Reporting entities should also note that AUSTRAC officers must produce photo identification before commencing onsite assessments.

Should your organisation be approached by someone claiming to be an AUSTRAC officer who seeks to establish a meeting with you over the telephone, please record as much information about the phone call as possible. This includes:

  • the name of the caller
  • their phone number (if displayed on your phone system)
  • the time of the call
  • any identifying characteristics of the caller's voice
  • details of what the caller is attempting to arrange.

As soon as possible after the call, contact AUSTRAC on 1300 021 037 to report the details.

If you have concerns about any past calls to your organisation (which you may have noted but not reported), contact AUSTRAC so an investigation can be undertaken into the bona fides of such calls.

Further information regarding scams can be obtained from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's SCAMwatch website and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's MoneySmart website.

Criminal activity involving identity theft, false bank accounts and false self-managed superannuation funds

AUSTRAC wishes to raise the awareness among reporting entities that are authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs), of criminal activities under investigation by the New South Wales Police Force.

The investigation Strike Force Gamut relates to an organised crime syndicate creating false identities of members of regulated superannuation funds, in order to steal superannuation entitlements through the opening of bank accounts. This investigation has a direct bearing on the effectiveness of reporting entities' AML/CTF programs.

AUSTRAC has been informed that the syndicate has allegedly stolen cheques and banking details from residential letter boxes and used personal details from the stolen mail to produce high quality counterfeit identity documents, such as drivers licences and Medicare cards. The syndicate then uses the false identification to open bank accounts through which they then launder stolen money and ultimately channel the proceeds offshore.

AUSTRAC also understands that Strike Force Gamut is expanding its investigations to include the possibility that the syndicate is stealing funds from superannuation accounts via rollovers to falsified self-managed superannuation funds. Reporting entities should be alert to these behaviours and take the opportunity to review the robustness of their AML/CTF programs and related processes and make any changes. AUSTRAC's broader ongoing supervisory activities will include scrutiny of reporting entity systems and procedures in these areas.

Vigilance and action by ADIs will ensure the successful implementation and maintenance of their programs for compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).

AUSTRAC expects reporting entities to be alert to suspicious transactions or behaviour and report such occurrences within the appropriate time frames.

Last modified: 02/03/2018 18:53