By the end of 2019, Aussies will have lost a record half a billion dollars to scammers. So, what are we falling for?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) estimates losses reported to Scamwatch, among other government agencies, are on track to reach $532 million this year.
This time last year, estimates were drastically lower — just $100 million.
Launching this year’s ‘National Scams Awareness Week’, the ACCC wants the public to rethink their idea of what constitutes a scam.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said Aussies’ confidence — that they are too smart for a scam — is often what scammers will target.
READ MORE: Do You Really Know How To Spot An Online Scam?
“People need to update their idea of what a scam is so that we are less vulnerable,” she said.
“Scammers are professional businesses dedicated to ripping us off. They have call centres with convincing scripts, staff training programs, and corporate performance indicators their ‘employees’ need to meet.”
So, what are the scams Australians are most likely to fall for?
Coming out on top are investment scams. They’re among the most sophisticated and convincing scams, and continue to claim the highest losses.
Investment scams involve getting a person or business to hand over money on the promise of a questionable financial opportunity.
So far this year, Scamwatch has received 3,061 reports — 43.2 percent of which resulted in about $36.2 million worth of financial losses. This compares to 3,508 reports and $38.8 million lost across the entire year in 2018.
Cryptocurrency scams — which commonly use social media platforms, fake celebrity endorsements or fake online trading platforms — have seen record losses of $14.76 million between January and July this year.
Dating And Romance Scams
While dating and romance scans often take place through online dating sites, scammers may also use social media or emails to make contact.
They can be both financially and emotionally destructive.
People typically report being approached by an ‘admirer’ who then exploits their victim’s emotions in order to ask them for money. Many victims will report a break down in relationships with friends and family as a result.
So far this year, Scamwatch has received 2,289 reports of dating and romance scams and $13.3 million in financial losses.
False billing scams request a person or their business to pay fake invoices for directory listings, advertising, domain name renewals or office supplies that weren’t ordered.
Typically, businesses are sent an invoice, letter or invitation to listed in a bogus trade directory or to renew their domain name. They may also receive an out-of-the-blue call from a scammer insisting an order has been made.
The ACCC warns many email-based ransomware scams will use fake bills as attachments that should not be opened.
Scamwatch has received 6,546 reports of false billing so far this year, with 16.3 percent of those resulting in $5.8 million worth of financial losses.
READ MORE: Scam Warning Over Fake NBN Internet Call Fleecing Thousands From Victims
READ MORE: Aussie Set To Lose More Than $100 Million To Scammers In 2018
Rickard urged the public to be vigilant on social media and to be wary of internet ads.
“Don’t be persuaded by celebrity endorsements or ‘not to be missed’ opportunities. You never know for certain who you’re dealing with or whether they’re credible,” she said.
“If you think you’re speaking to a friend on social media, call them, or find another way to contact them before acting on any advice that might result in you giving away your personal details or money.”
Scamwatch is urging the public to avoid dealing with companies that do not appear on a list compiled by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
These businesses do not hold a current Australian financial services (AFS) licence or Australian credit licence from ASIC.
Featured image: Getty
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