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$634m loss: Scammers getting smarter

  • June 22 2020
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$634m loss: Scammers getting smarter

By Grace Ormsby
June 22 2020

Australians lost more than $634 million to scams in 2019 alone, a figure calculated from the more than 350,000 reports of fraudulent activity made to Scamwatch, other government agencies and the big four banks over the year.

Scammers getting smarter

$634m loss: Scammers getting smarter

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  • June 22 2020
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Australians lost more than $634 million to scams in 2019 alone, a figure calculated from the more than 350,000 reports of fraudulent activity made to Scamwatch, other government agencies and the big four banks over the year.

Scammers getting smarter

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) deputy chair, Delia Rickard, it was unfortunately “another year with devastatingly high losses”.

While it’s the first year that the consumer watchdog has incorporated statistics from the big four banks in its reporting, Ms Rickard said it “gives a more complete picture of how much people are losing to scams”.

Despite this, “we know these numbers still vastly understate losses as around one-third of people don’t report scam cases to anyone”.

Scammers are “constantly finding new ways to defraud Australians”, the deputy chair said.

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“Some of these scams can last for months, or even years, and can leave victims financially and emotionally devastated,” Ms Rickard flagged.

Business email compromise scams accounted for the highest losses in 2019 – it saw both businesses and individuals lose a total $132 million.

Investment scams came in at a close second – losing Australians $126 million all up.

Dating and romance scams also netted large losses – victims of this scam type gave up a reported $83 million.

According to information gathered by the ACCC, scams originating on social media increased by 20 per cent in 2019, while scammers increasingly attempted to make contact with potential victims through the use of mobile phone apps.

Inclusion of the most recent data means that over the last 10 years, ScamWatch has received almost 1 million scam reports.

Combined with partner data, it means Australians have reported losses of $2.5 billion over the decade.

Ms Rickard said, “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.”

“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,” she explained.

The consumer watchdog highlighted several common techniques in use by scammers to manipulate their victims: These include making exclusive offers that you don’t want to miss out on, 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 advised.

Anyone who thinks they may have been the victim of a scam is being urged to contact their bank as soon as possible, as well as contact the platform on which the scam took place.


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About the author

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Grace is a journalist on Momentum Media's nestegg. She enjoys being able to provide easy to digest information and practical tips for Australians with regard to their wealth, as well as having a platform on which to engage leading experts and commentators and leverage their insight.

About the author

Grace is a journalist on Momentum Media's nestegg. She enjoys being able to provide easy to digest information and practical tips for Australians with regard to their wealth, as well as having a platform on which to engage leading experts and commentators and leverage their insight.

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