There has been a significant spike in scammers targeting underage victims online, according to new research.
Westpac urged young Aussies to take care after it revealed the number of scams being reported by Aussies under the age of 18 had quadrupled since last year.
Westpac revealed scammers were going to very concerning lengths to target underage children.
Scammers using ‘sextortion’ against children
Westpac general manager of financial crime and fraud prevention Chris Whittingham said the data was concerning and revealed a growing trend of ‘sextortion’ targeting young Aussies.
“It’s really alarming to see such a big spike in the number of scammers tricking young people into sending compromising information online,” he said.
“Scammers will then use this information to extort money from the victim, often requesting a number of small payments over a period of time.
“Scammers prey on the fact young people spend lots of time on social media platforms and create fake accounts to pose as teenagers themselves. They often build trust over time, allowing them to gather more information about their victim or gain access to personal content.”
Whittingham said it was really important to be conscious of how much information Aussies shared on social media and other websites.
“Scammers can use anything you post to piece information together about you – like what school or university you attend, sports you play, or suburb you live in – which they then use to form a connection with you or even impersonate you,” he said.
“Always stop and think before you post, be very cautious of anyone you’ve never seen in-person or spoken to on video chat before, and never give away details like your address or date of birth.”
Aussies warned to be careful what they buy online
According to Westpac’s data, young Australians were also most likely to fall victim to buying and selling scams.
“Buying and selling scams often occur through fake websites or online marketplaces. Scammers entice victims with competitive prices for high-demand items like concert tickets or designer clothes,” Whittingham said.
“You should always conduct an independent search through your web browser to confirm if a business is legitimate before making a payment, especially if it’s a brand you’ve never bought anything from before. Also, be wary if they request payment through unusual methods like cryptocurrency.”