The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reported that scam activity reached record levels in Australia in 2016, with a 47 per cent increase over 2015.
Deputy Chair of the ACCC, Delia Rickard released the Commission’s Targeting Scams report and said the ACCC’s Scamwatch and the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) received a combined 200,000 reports about scams.
“Losses reported to Scamwatch, ACORN and other scam disruption programs totalled $299.8 million,” Ms Rickard said.
“Australians aged over 55 accounted for 45 per cent of reports to Scamwatch, investment scams accounted for the most losses, with combined reports to Scamwatch and ACORN totalling $59 million.”
She said dating and romance scams accounted for the next highest losses, with a combined $42 million lost.
Ms Rickard said the Targeting Scams report was released to launch the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce’s Fraud Week.
“This year’s theme, ‘Spot Social Media Scams’, aims to create awareness among Australians about new social media scams that are being reported, what to look for and how people can avoid being scammed,” she said.
“We have witnessed a sharp increase in scams taking place through social media sites; it can be really hard to tell who’s genuine and who’s fake these days.”
Ms Rickard said dating and romance scammers tricked their victims into falling in love with them and then used their victim’s trust to deceitfully take their money.
She said fake trader scams were also on the increase.
Ms Rickard said victims often reported seeing advertisements for online stores on social media selling discounted products made by well-known brands, but these stores were fakes and the products victims thought they were buying did not exist.