Common scams in Melbourne


Scammers are increasingly targetting international students and travellers / WHV (Work Holiday Visa holders) in Australia looking for part-time work and accomotion.

And while some of these scams seem so obvious and stupid that you'd wonder how anyone how anyone would ever get scammed this way (however people still regularly do get scammed using these method!) there are some quite new and novel tricks that scammers are using to seperate you from your money.

So let's take a look at each of them and how you can prevent yourself from getting scammed.

#1 Rental bond scam:

I moderate a Facebook group for people looking to rent their apartment. There's around 80,000 members in the group and it receives abot 40-50 posts a day. So this is a scam technique that I've seen many, many times as a moderator and sadly, the number of online scammers has been increasing all over Facebook.

No (in-person) inspection:
This is the most common scam out there. They will pretend to have an apartment and ask you to pay the bond to secure it. They will send you photos and videos of the apartment and come up with excuses to why you can't inspect it in person, however if you pay them $1,500 - $2,500 in bond + 1 month rent, you will never get this money back.

The simple rule is: Do not pay someone bond or rent without first seeing the apartment and meeting them in person.

Many bond scammers are not in Melbourne, they scam people from overseas. This makes the easy to detect as they can't possibly show you the apartment in person. They will give excuses of "being a doctor working interstate" and then use pressure tactics by claiming the apartment is in "high demand" and that you need to pay money to "secure the apartment before it's taken". Make it clear: no in person inspection = no payment.

In-person bond scammers are less common because Victoria police often can investigate them, catch them and bring them to justice. Scammers overseas however, can't easily be brought to justice by our state police, so they continue scamming.

Scam examples:
Often it's an attractive, young female posting. The "I know some owners" or "inbox me for availbility" is a very common one. They will proceed to send you photos of apartments - often that aren't even in Melbourne

scams: profile
scams: posting

(above:) A look at how frequently this person is posting.

In person scams:
These ones are harder to avoid but less common:

(note: despite the posters claims, this person may not be a scammer, there may have been a communication breakdown, this would be for the police/courts to decide. This is only given as an example.)

#2 Cheap / event ticket scammers:

When Taylor swift came to melbourne, there was a lot of scammers out offering discounted tickets to the festival. You can read about it here:
Taylor Swift fans being targeted by ticket scammers disguised as social media ‘friends’, Victoria police warn

We run ticketed sightseeing trips and scammers regularly post to our pages pretending to sell our tickets:

ticketing scammers screenshot

Be warned: they will rob you if you pay them any money.

As a side note: there are (specialized) websites where you can resell and purchase other people's tickets safely, however facebook or instagram is not (at time of writing) one of them.

Also beware of "in person" sales: they still have access to the QR code and can enter before you - leading to you getting a "duplicate entry" warning at the front door and denied entry. Although this is less common.

#3 Romance scammers: Blackmailers:

I've heard of scammers "romancing" people over 12 months and convincing their victims that their "farm in china" needs $60,000 to pay off debts, otherwise it will be taken by the bank and of course there's the "Tinder Swindler" story. However, here's a romance scam you very likely haven't heard of.

To start, I'll give some context: I run a weekly language exchange in Melbourne CBD where a friend of mine worked. We were having a conversation one day when he told me that he had to delete his social media. He explained to me why:

He matched with someone on Tinder, they had a seamingly normal conversation and at some point this person convinced him to send some spicy (X-rated) photos over the app. He also gave them his social media accounts (instagram and facebook). They then used these photos and to access his friends list. Using this information, they threatened to send these compromising photos to his facebook friends and relatives unless he paid them money (blackmail).

This is why he deleted all his social media accounts. I think he managed to escape from the blackmail, however a persistent blackmailer could have easily copied his friends list and continued pressuring him.

#4 Job scammers:

Scammers went heavy on this scam a few years ago and I've read that job and employment scams have increased by over 740% in 2023 (source).

Ussually the account profile has a picture of a young, attractive female (but not always) advertising a job that pays quite well. Here's one post (of hundreds) that I have banned:

These posts all look quite similar to me. The scammers often post to groups that aren't related to jobs, there's ussually no description of what the work is (although sometimes there is).

However the big giveaways are: there's no mention of the name of the company hiring (or the job agency that is recruiting on their behalf), you never meet them in person and their social media profiles are "locked" (unable to view) or very basic with few photos, comments etc.

These scams (ussually) do one of the following:

  • require you to: submit government ID (with the objective of stealing your identity. read more: Scammers Are Using Fake Job Ads to Steal People’s Identities) as part of the application process and: install malicious apps (in order to "complete" the work).

  • convince you (through various tricks) to make multiple deposits of $250 (or there abouts) in order to "complete work" (for more info, see: Facebook Job Scam)

  • get you to post scams (e.g. selling iPhones / electronics cheap) to Facebook groups and then send the "leads" to the real scammers. This prevents their accounts from being flagged as scammers - as you're the one posting.

These scams leave you robbed of your money, your identity stolen and with malicious applications on your phone.

There's 2 useful case studies here: Australians urged to be alert to rapidly rising employment scams (Oct 2023).

#5 Cheap electronics scammers:

This person is advertising an iPhone 15 (normally priced at $2,200) for a low price of $800:

This scam works by (obviously) taking your monery and not sending you the item you paid for.

#6: MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) not scams, but often a way to lose money:

MLMs (also referred to as pyramid schemes by many) are not scams (in the legal sense) but many people have accused different MLMs of being scams and targetting poor and underpriviledged people with aggressive sales tactics.

If you don't know what an MLM is, I strongly recommend learning to identify them as you will (very likely) have peoplethat you personally know attempting to recruit you (I've had at least 4 or 5 people I personally know try to recruit me in the past).

Not all of them are bad, but I've seen reports that like this one: 85% of the “sales force” makes $0. Additionally, you generally need to pay hundreds of dollars in monthly or annual fees to join. There's a whole sub-reddit called anti-MLM that discusses MLMs.

#7: Tinder / Bumble / Hinge - social media adverts:

You arn't going to lose thousands$ from this scam, but they are still scammers in the sense that they are disguise their true intentions and will waste your time for their own benefit.

How it works: they post their social media @ handle (ussually instagram) along with the text "I'm not on here often message me at @xyz_I_need_followers_123". Example below:

They are most often wannabe "influencers" looking for new followers to grow their social media accounts. These people have no interest in talking to you and will likely ignore any messages you send them. However, alone is not a scam.

It becomes a "scam" when they go a step further and message their "matches" and instruct (ussually early in the conversation) to message their IG because they "don't use Hinge/Bumble/Tinder very often".

This may be an annoyance for most and not have a financial loss (like many typical scams), however it's a scam in the sense that it: uses deception to lure people in and then wastes your resources (in this case your time) for this the scammers benefit.

What do I personlly do about scammers?

All Facebook groups and private websites deal with scammers. As a Facebook group moderator, I actively review and ban scam posters when I find them and look for prevention methods, however the most important thing I do with my group is offer education and public service announcements about scammers to our group members when they first join and regularly via posts to our groups.

Why does Facebook allow scammer accounts?

I would have thought facebook could detect scammers and delete their accounts. There should be enough information: new account + no real friends + posting immediately to FB groups + manual reports from genuine users should trigger a red flag.

Some people say there's an "arm's race" between facebook developers and scammers attempting to out wit each other. I think it's also possible that the new accounts (created by scammers) and this "user activity" inflate facebook usage stats to shareholders and make it look like it's bigger and used by more people than it acctually is and this increases it's value on the share market - so they quitely allow it to happen. But this is speculation.

Either way, I hope I've shared some unique scam techniques that you may not have heard of before so you can better protect yourself and help us work together to put scammers out of business.