Scams Targeting International Students in Australia

Have you recently received a strange SMS to pick up a package, offers for student fee discounts, or a robot call from the Australia Taxation Agency?

If yes, these are just some of the types of scams that are targeting citizens and international students living in Australia.  Every year scams cost Australian’s millions of dollars and cause considerable non-financial harm. Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages, and income levels. International students who may not be familiar with laws and regulations in Australia in particular are vulnerable, and may face significant repercussions and financial loss if they fall victim to such traps. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself on ways to spot scams, and how to protect yourself against them.

What is a scam?

Generally, a scam involves a hidden organisation or individual that tries to deceive or trick victims into giving them money or stealing their identity. Scams come in all shapes and sizes. New technologies, apps and communication devices allow scammers to exploit the times, creating a challenge for authorities who are trying to detect and combat these scams. Let’s look at some of the recent scams in Australia.

      • Student Discount Scam

This scam has been targeting students at Universities and top RTO’s such as RGIT and UIA. The exact details are unclear but what we know is that in this operation the scammers will send you an email offering to pay for your student fees or a discount of 50%. These scammers request your credit card or bank details, to pay a portion of your student fees on your behalf. They then make a payment with a fraudulent card. By the time the false payment is discovered and rejected by the bank the scammer already has your details and payment.

Please be aware that RGIT has no affiliation with any third parties such as these. All payments should be made either directly to RGIT or through your trusted agent.

      • Flubot Scam (message delivery) Scam:

Starting around mid 2021, Australians have been getting messages regarding deliveries, voicemails, and missed calls. According to data collected by, there were over 9000 reports of this scam in August. In this scam the text message requests the reader to tap on a link to arrange a time for a delivery. Often, they say that the link is to download a delivery app. However, the message is fake, and the app link is malicious software called Flubot. Android phones and iPhones can both receive texts from the Flubot. If you receive one of these messages, do not click or tap on the link. Delete the message immediately.

Flu-bot scam

Australia Post created the following video to help you understand the difference between an authentic post update and scam post update:

      • Covid-19 Vaccine Passport Scam:

Scamwatch has received over 6415 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus with more than $9 800 000 in reported losses since the outbreak of COVID-19. In this scam potential victims are sent a text message purportedly offering them access to a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport.  Included in the message is a web link, with the message being sent from a contact, “BeCovidSafe”. For those under lockdown restrictions this is a tempting lure for those hoping for eased restrictions. Please be aware that this is a phishing scam to collect your private information.

      • Government, Police or Taxation Agency Threatening arrest scam

This is a phone scam that re-emerges during the end of the tax year. In this scam you will receive a pre-recorded message impersonating government agencies saying your tax file number has been suspended due to ‘suspicious activity’. This information is often followed by a threat to arrest you if action is not taken. The caller often impersonates a government official or a representative of the police or taxation office.

Similarly, there has been here was an increase in reports of a scam targeting Chinese Mandarin speaking students. In this scam scammer pose as Chinese authorities and accuse them of committing a crime, such as sending a parcel with illegal goods like fake credit cards and threaten them with deportation or arrest unless they pay money or provide their personal information.

If you receive calls such as these, hang up immediately and report it.

Here are some tips on protecting yourself

If you’re looking to strengthen your personal security to keep yourself safe from scams, the following tips are a good place to start:

        • Don’t respond to scammers if you believe they’re targeting you. If they use your email address or phone number, block it and report it immediately.
        • Maintain the privacy and security of your passwords and PINs. Consider regularly updating your passwords.
        • You should limit the amount of personal information you put online, and you should not reveal your information to strangers
        • Giving money online to strangers is risky, please pay extra attention to the identity and authenticity of the organization requesting money.

To stay up-to-date with the latest scams in Australia, go to Scamwatch, a site run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Their site provides information on how to recognise, avoid and report scams in Australia. Stay safe!

Visit their site here or follow their twitter account here: