Scams in Australia are big business, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reporting that the cost of being scammed jumped by more than 5% in the last 12 months.
The consumer watchdog’s targeting scams report showed that complaints to its Scamwatch site were up more than 15% to 105,200 in 2015 (from 2014’s 91,600), while the value rose $3 million to $85 million last year.
But the problem is even bigger than that, with the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) revealing losses of $127 million in 2015 from 25,600 complaints, and deputy chair Delia Rickard said the true figure from unreported crime is even higher.
“If you add Scamwatch and ACORN data with losses detected through scam disruption work, total scam losses exceeded $229 million last year,” she said.
“The ACCC’s report reveals that investment scams and dating and romance scams resulted in the largest financial losses. There are many other scams which affect older members of the community but these two scams account for half of the money reported lost by over 55s in 2015.”
Various scam disruption programs also detect Australians sending funds to high risk jurisdictions and a combined estimate of losses to this unreported scam activity is $17.1 million.
In 2015, Scamwatch reports for fraudulent investment schemes across all age groups doubled to over $24 million, with 1,262 complaints. If you add in the investment scams reported to ACORN, the total amount reported comes to over $41 million. Of those reported to Scamwatch, almost $6.3 million was lost to victims over 55.
In 2015, Scamwatch reports for dating and romance scams decreased slightly but were still significant with just under $23 million in reported losses from 2,620 complaints.
Of this, $5.6 million was lost to victims over 55, with 464 complaints from this age group. ACORN reports losses for romance scams totalled $15 million. When you add those losses to those from the disruption to work ($17m), the total losses for relationship scams amounts to more than $54 million.
The ACCC produced this chart showing who’s being scammed.
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