The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's (ACCC) 'Scamwatch' figures for September revealed a 13% jump in scams from August to September, as Australians lose over $30 million throughout the month.
These numbers are almost double recorded numbers in September 2020, bringing the amount of money lost this year to over $222 million.
While the number of scams reported decreased from 49,891 to 34,100 month-to-month, several 'concerning' trends were revealed.
Investment scams and job-related scams both hit record highs in September.
Australians lost more than $18.4 million to investment scams, which is a 360% spike from September 2020.
Crispin Kerr, cybersecurity agency Proofpoint ANZ area vice-president, said investment scams have been the biggest source of money lost throughout the year, but peaked in September.
"Compared to September last year where losses to these scams amounted to $6 million, the most recent figures paint a stark picture of the current reality," Mr Kerr said.
"Investment scams can be particularly alluring as they promise money or some form of financial compensation."
Scams relating to jobs and employment also rose 'significantly' to over $707,000.
Young people (18 to 24 years old) were 'disproportionally' affected by job scams, accounting for more than three quarters of money lost.
"In the current climate, and with restrictions easing in some states, it is understandable why these scams are appealing, but we urge people to be cautious," Mr Kerr said.
"These scams usually come out of the blue and sound too good to be true, which are two of the biggest red flags that something isn’t quite right."
Additionally, classified scams rose by 20% from August to September, with Australians losing more than $816,600.
Mr Kerr said there are a number of warning signs people can look out for when buying or selling to someone you don't know.
"These include people offering very low prices for the items compared to other sellers, refusing to let you view the item before purchasing or asking for international money transfer for payment," he said.
Middle-aged and locked-down Aussies hit hard
Middle-aged Australians were hit hardest financially by scams, accounting for 40% of total money lost in September.
Specifically, people between 45 and 54 years old made up for 32% of money lost, which is more than double the amount recorded for August.
Locked-down Aussies experienced heavy losses, as $11.1 million was lost by NSW residents and $10 million was lost by Victorians.
Victorian scams rose by 50% from August to September, and money lost to scams in ACT increased by 37%.
"As the pandemic continues to impact many Australians particularly in Victoria and New South Wales, where losses to these scams were the highest, exercising caution and common sense are important to ensuring financial safety," Mr Kerr said.
Mobile app scams more than doubled in one month
Mobile app scams also hit the highest-recorded loss in September, accounting for more than $6.5 million. This is up from the $3.8 million lost in August.
Highest losses were seen via romance and dating, identity theft, and investment scams.
Dating and romance scams were the second most profitable in September, up 13% from August, with Australians losing almost $5 million.
"Australians of all ages can and are being targeted by scammers with a variety of cheap, but effective tactics," Mr Kerr said.
"As scam activity continues to increase, it’s important Australians are taking steps to protect themselves and their families."
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