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'Elaborate' Uni Fraud Scamming Aussie Businesses Of Millions

A new phone and email scam has swindled Australian business owners more than one million dollars in just a matter of weeks, police have warned.

The emerging scam sees Australian businesses targeted by people claiming to be from a university, with callers saying they want to purchase electrical goods or medical equipment from their company.

Police described the operation as 'elaborate', saying scammers have already swindled businesses out of laptops, defibrillators and other goods totalling at least $1.5 million in just a few weeks in NSW alone.

Cyberhack
Image: Getty Images.

The scam with the fraudster claiming to be representing University Procurement Services to order the stock, before providing instructions to deliver the products to a warehouse.

According to NSW Police, the business then provides payment details to receive an electronic transfer of payment while the goods are delivered, but the money is never paid.

The global scam is believed to be widely under-reported, with a spokesperson for NSW police confirming to 10 daily that the names of multiple Australian universities are may have been used in the scam on national businesses.

One business has already lost $500,000 alone from the elaborate identity takeover scam, according to Financial Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett.

“We urge businesses to make independent inquiries with the University procurement section to check the legitimacy of the transaction,” she said.

“When making further inquiries, go directly to the University website and seek legitimate contact details rather than using the numbers listed in the email."

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According to the latest statistics from the Australian Competition And Consumer Commission (ACCC), business scams saw a more than 50 percent increase in targeted scams last year.

Businesses across the country lost more than $7.2 million to over 5800 reported scams in 2018.

The ACCC said small businesses with fewer than 20 staff were the overwhelming targets, racking up more than 75 percent of the reports to the ACCC last year.

If you have been the victim of a scam, you can report it to local police or to ACCC Scamwatch on 1300 795 995.

Contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au