27 September 2023

2021 Aussie scams break the record

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Australians lost another record amount of money to scams in 2021 according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) despite Government, law enforcement and the private sector disrupting more scam activity than ever before,

Deputy Chair of the ACCC, Delia Rickard said the Commission’s latest Targeting scams report revealed that people across the country lost more than $2 billion to scams in 2021.

Ms Rickard said the reported losses found by Scamwatch, ReportCyber, major banks, money remitters and Government Agencies totalled almost $1.8 billion, “but as one-third of victims do not report scams the ACCC estimates actual losses were well over $2 billion.”

She said investment scams were the highest loss category ($701 million) in 2021, followed by payment redirection scams ($227 million), and romance scams ($142 million).

“Scam activity continues to increase, and last year a record number of Australians lost a record amount of money,” Ms 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,” she said.

“The true cost of scams is more than a dollar figure as they also cause serious emotional harm to individuals, families, and businesses.”

Ms Rickard said women reported the most scams but men lost more money than women, and men’s losses to investment scams were double the women’s losses.

However, she said that in culturally and linguistically diverse communities, women had slightly higher losses than men.

She said that in 2021, Scamwatch received record levels of reports and losses from Australians that may have been experiencing vulnerability or hardship.

“People with disability made twice as many reports compared to 2020, and their financial losses increased by 102 per cent to $19.6 million,” Ms Rickard said.

“The increasing number of reports by people experiencing vulnerability is a very worrying trend,” she said.

“Everyone from Government, to banks, and digital platforms needs to do more to address this.”

Ms Rickard said the ACCC wanted banks to match payee information in pay anyone transactions, as this had been shown to have a real impact.

She said the ACCC research presented in the Report showed that scams were now almost ubiquitous in Australia, with 96 per cent of respondents exposed to scammers in the previous five years, and 20 per cent having fallen victim.

“If an investment opportunity seems too good to be true, we urge all Australians to not go anywhere near it,” Ms Rickard said.

The ACCC’s 70-page Targeting scams Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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