SCAMS ON THE RISE WITH AUSSIES DUPED $85M
Written on the 16 May 2016
SCAM losses are up compared to a year earlier with $85 million reported lost in 105,200 complaints to the competition watchdog.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch recorded 91,600 scam complaints totalling $82 million in 2014.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard says the agency has ramped up its campaign warning people following the increase.
"This Fraud Week, the ACCC is urging the community to 'Wise Up to Scams' following a $3 million increase in scam losses reported to the ACCC and a 15 per cent increase in complaints," Rickard says.
"In particular, we are encouraging older Australians to wise up and watch out for scams that target them so they don't have their hard earned savings stolen."
The ACCC has also reviewed data from other scam jurisdictions with reports to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) revealing losses of more than $127 million from 25,600 complaints in 2015.
While 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.
"If you add Scamwatch and ACORN data with losses detected through scam disruption work, total scam losses exceeded $229 million last year," Rickard says.
"We know that in reality the actual total is higher still as many people never report that they've been scammed.
"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."
In 2015, Scamwatch reports for fraudulent investment schemes across all age groups doubled to over $24 million with 1262 complaints. Combined with figures from ACORN the total swells to more than $41 million.
With almost $6.3 million lost to victims over 55, Rickard says business venture and superannuation scams threaten those looking to grow their retirement funds.
"Scammers dress up 'opportunities' with professional looking brochures and websites to mask their fraudulent operations and trick unsuspecting Australians," she says.
"Before parting with your money, do your research on the investment company and check they have an Australian Financial Services License on ASIC's MoneySmart website.
"Don't let anyone pressure you into making decisions about your money or investments."
In 2015, Scamwatch reports for dating and romance scams decreased slightly to just under $23 million from 2620 complaints. Of this $5.6 million was lost to victims over 55.