Australians lost over $630 million to scams in 2019, according to the latest Targeting Scams report.
That report, released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said this $634 million was lost to over 353,000 reported scams to Scamwatch, the major banks and other government agencies.
This is a significant increase on the year prior, as the ACCC found just under $500 million was lost to scams in 2018.
Business email scams accounted for the highest losses in 2019 at $132 million, followed by investment scams at $126 million, and dating and romance scams at $83 million.
Over the last 10 years, the ACCC reports that more than $2.5 billion has been lost to scams.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said these losses are "devastatingly high" and "astonishing", and that scammers are constantly finding new ways to defraud Australians.
“We know these numbers still vastly understate losses as around one third of people don’t report scam losses to anyone and in the past far fewer scam reports to other agencies have been captured," Ms Rickard said.
“Some of these scams can last for months, or even years, and can leave victims financially and emotionally devastated.”
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The ACCC says scams originating on social media increased by 20% in 2019, and scams made via contact on mobile apps rose by 29%.
“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.”
The most affected age group is 55-64 year olds who accounted for 23% of scam victims by losses, followed by:
- 45-54 year olds (21%)
- 35-44 year olds (20%)
- 65+ year olds (18%)
People-aged 34 and under account for less than 20% of scam victims, but this could be set to increase based on the rise in scams made over social media and mobile apps like TikTok and Snapchat.
“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.
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