Nov 08, 2022

Drug smuggling scams repeatedly targetting older people

Drug smuggling scams repeatedly targetting older people

Older people are increasingly being targeted by online scammers who then force them to act as drug mules, bringing illicit drugs into Australia in an attempt to recover lost money.

A joint partnership between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) led to 18 arrests of older people over the past 12 months for attempting to traffick drugs into the country.

The trend of older people being targeted was easy to spot as many shared similar stories of coercion by organised criminals as part of serious online financial scams.

One arrest in June saw an older American pair caught at Sydney International Airport with 15kg of methamphetamine and 1.5kg of cocaine in their luggage lining.

The couple had travelled to Zimbabwe after being told by a scammer if they picked up luggage – with unknown contents – and brought it to Australia, they would be able to recover $500,000 USD lost in the international plot.

AFP Commander Kate Ferry said it was clear that criminals will go to any length to smuggle drugs into Australia.

“Criminal syndicates, by their very nature, exploit vulnerable communities and will undertake whatever tactics necessary to import drugs into our country,” Commander Ferry said.

“We have unfortunately seen instances where people have not only fallen victim to classic inheritance or investment scams and lost their money, but they are then offered false hope to regain their money, some unwittingly working as drug mules for the criminal syndicate.”

In July, two German travellers, 69, were picked up by the ABF at Sydney International Airport after they discovered two of their suitcases allegedly contained 18kg of methamphetamine.

They had also flown to Zimbabwe to pick up suitcases after the elderly man had been targeted by an inheritance scam. They were also told they could get their money back if they transported these suitcases into Australia.

Commander Ferry said older people are particularly vulnerable to sophisticated scams preying on their naivety and vulnerability.  

“The victims of scams are already facing significant financial hardship along with any additional emotional trauma as a result of the online scam,” Commander Ferry said.

“These criminals prey on the vulnerable and, at times, naive, and further victimise them by banking on the fact that they will do whatever it takes to recover their funds. 

“The consequences for these victims can be severe, including lengthy terms of imprisonment.”

Older people have unfortunately been targeted by a range of scams in recent years, proving just how hard it is to stay safe.

A couple in their 70s lost $5,045 to a fake National Broadband Network (NBN) employee claiming they had discovered a virus in their computer and needed remote access to remove it.

More than $5 million was stolen from numerous older women worldwide who were tricked into developing online relationships with fake accounts, including an Irish woman in her 60s who developed a relationship with a man who claimed to live in Florida. 

She lost $44,800 USD to 28-year-old David Annor, who was arrested in November 2020.

Commander Ferry said that any Australian caught up in a financial scam can contact the police for assistance, and to be aware of scams and tactics requesting personal information, bank details, or include international travel.

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  1. Your chances of getting your money back after scams depend on your situation and how you
    were scammed, but you should always report the scam to your local authorities. It is best
    to work with a private recovery firm, a competent and trustworthy one with a good
    reputation, if you are looking to recover your money from the scammer. Financialreimbursement company helped when I was scammed you can look them up on google. I hope you get the help you deserve too

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