Fraud and scams skyrocket in Ballina

BALLINA has seen a massive 60% rise in fraud over the last two years according to the latest Bureau of Crime statistics.

On average, reported fraud in Ballina since 2014 has risen 58.7% per year, to 545 incidents per 100,000 people.

Byron and Lismore still recorded higher raw figures than Ballina, of 744 and 569 incidents per 100,000 people, but those statistics remained stable.

Richmond Valley and Kyogle recorded significantly less fraud matters.

The worrying Ballina spike is the result of increasing sophistication of phone and internet scams, as well as police encouraging people to report fraud, according to Richmond police Senior Constable David Henderson.

"I think the scammers are getting a lot more sophisticated," Snr Const Henderson said.

"I've been a police officer for 15 years and I'm seeing new scams every day and they're just getting a lot more clever.

"The scams are coming through emails, SMSs, people on their computer getting (fake) virus messages... or saying 'we've detected pornography on your computer and you're going to be arrested unless you pay us money'."

In a timely warning Richmond police issued an alert this morning about South African fraudsters targeting Ballina residents.

Five reports have been received by police in two days regarding police infringement notices demanding "instant payment".

The fake fines were sent from a South African website (.ZA), and did not have the target person's name listed, the grammar and punctuation was poor and the fines were in unusual amounts, such as $996.02.

People receiving the notices are advised to not click on the email link as doing so might infect their computer with spyware or ransomware.

"NSW police do issue fines via email. This is only done if the receiver consents to receiving the fine via email, and there will be numerous identifiers on any email from NSW police such as time date and actual offence," Snr Const Henderson said.

Snr Const Henderson said Australia lost $7 billion a year and it was showing no sign of slowing down.

In August a 79-year-old Goolmangar woman lost $5000 to a phone scam where a pushy, foreign-accented man convinced her to enter her debit card details and pin into her computer, where previously installed malware was able to record the numbers to access her account and steal her savings.

Snr Const Henderson himself recalled personally receiving a scam phishing text message just prior to speaking at a scam information night in October.

If you feel you have been subjected to a cybercrime incident you are encouraged to inform the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network on 

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