The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today reported that Australians lost a record amount of almost AU $1.8 billion. However, since one-third of victims do not report scams, the ACCC estimates actual losses were well more than AU$2 billion.
The official report collected data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, major banks and money remitters, and other government agencies. The assessment is based on analysis of over 560,000 reports.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said:
Scammers are the most opportunistic of all criminals: they pose as charities after a natural disaster, health departments during a pandemic, and love interests every day.
The true cost of scams is more than a dollar figure as they also cause serious emotional harm to individuals, families, and businesses.
Out of the total number, investment scams accounted for the highest loss with $701 million in 2021, followed by payment redirection scams and romance scams which with losses of $227 million and $142 million, respectively.
The increasing popularity of cryptocurrency has contributed to the growing amount of investment scams, according to the report. The ACCC found that crypto is becoming the preferred method of payment for all types of scams.
Scamwatch recorded over 71,000 cases of phishing and more than 22,000 incidents of identity theft in 2021. There were over 32,000 complaints about scammers making threats to life, arrest or other, more than 21,000 reports of false billings, and more than 20,000 incidents of online shopping scams.
According to the available data, elderly individuals aged 65 or more were the most targeted group with 46,286 reports on Scamwatch and AU$82 million in losses. Scammers also targeted individuals below 18 years of age, but the reports and losses have remained low compared to other age groups.
The official report stated:
In 2021 scams have sadly continued to cause harm to people in all sections of the community. Worryingly, some of the more vulnerable members of the community are reporting increasingly high losses. Indigenous Australians, older Australians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people with disability are losing far more than ever before.
In 2020, Australians lost $328 million to investments scams, according to the yearly ACCC report. Earlier last month, Scamwatch reported that for the first half of 2022, Australians have already lost $205 million to scams.
Experienced writer and journalist, working in the global online trading sector, Steffy is the Editor of LeapRate. She has previous experience as a copywriter and has been with the company since January 2020. Steffy has a British and American Studies degree from St. Kliment Ochridski University in Sofia.