Scammers claimed over $634 million from Aussies in 2019, with business email compromise scams accounting for $132 million — proving that businesses remain a major focus for scammers.
“Unfortunately, it is another year with devastatingly high losses, and scammers are constantly finding new ways to defraud Australians,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
“This year, we have included data from the big four banks which gives a more complete picture of how much people are losing to scams.”
According to the report, investment scams were second on the ladder, claiming $126 million and increasing by 59 per cent compared to a year earlier. Dating and romance scams followed, fleecing victims of $83 million.
Among those scams reported directly to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, investment scams accounted for more than $61.8 million in losses, with dating and romance scams fleecing victims of more than $28.6 million.
The next biggest loss generators were false billing scams with $10.1 million and hacking with $5.1 million.
The remaining top 10 (rounded to the nearest $10,000) were:
- Online shopping scams ($4.8 million)
- Remote access scams ($4.8 million)
- Identity theft ($4.3 million)
- Threats to life, arrest or other ($4.3 million)
- Classifieds scams ($2.8 million)
- Inheritance scams ($2.6 million)
A demographic breakdown revealed that scammers are mostly targeting those aged over 65, with this category making up 21 per cent of all reports received by Scamwatch and 18 per cent of the losses.
The working age between 55 and 64 years followed with 17 per cent of all reports, but with the highest losses in dollar terms or 23 per cent of the total.
Based solely on reports provided to the ACCC in 2019, scams originating on social media increased by 20 per cent and contacts via mobile phone apps increased by 29 per cent.
“Over the last decade, scammers have taken advantage of new technologies and current scams are using social media apps and new payment methods that didn’t exist in 2009,” Ms Rickard said.
“In particular, a new trend with dating and romance scams is scammers contacting the victim on social media apps or games which are not designed for dating, so it’s important to be aware that scammers can target you anywhere.”
According to the report, common techniques that scammers used to manipulate their victims included making exclusive offers or asking for small commitments, such as completing a survey, to make the victim more likely to comply with larger schemes.
“You can always say no, hang up the phone or delete an email, even if you’ve said yes previously. You don’t owe the scammer anything,” Ms Rickard said.
Overall, between 2009 and 2019, Aussies have reported losing $2.5 billion to scammers on the back of significant advances in technology.
Individuals that think they have been the victim of a scam are advised to contact their bank as soon as possible as well as the platform on which they were scammed.