Scammers managed to make over $634 million in 2019

By Juliano Oliveira

Business email compromise was the most successful trick used by scammers last year, who managed to make over $634 million.

Latest figures released by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) show that the Australians lost $132 million only in business email compromise scams.

This practice is characterized when a cybercriminal impersonates a business representative to trick an employee, customer or vendor into transferring money or sensitive information.

“Unfortunately it is another year with devastatingly high losses, and scammers are constantly finding new ways to defraud Australians,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“This year we have included data from the big four banks which gives a more complete picture of how much people are losing to scams.”

Other tactics employed by scammers in 2019 involved investment frauds ($126 million), and dating and romance scams ($83 million).

Over the last 10 years of Targeting Scams reports, Scamwatch has received almost one million reports of scams.

“When we combine Scamwatch reports with partner data, we see that Australians have reported losing $2.5 billion over that time, which is astonishing,” Ms Rickard said.

“We know these numbers still vastly understate losses as around one third of people don’t report scam losses to anyone and in the past far fewer scam reports to other agencies have been captured.”

“Some of these scams can last for months, or even years, and can leave victims financially and emotionally devastated.”

Trend

In 2019, scams originating on social media increased by 20% and contacts via mobile phone apps increased by 29%.

“Over the last decade, scammers have taken advantage of new technologies and current scams are using social media apps and new payment methods that didn’t exist in 2009,” Ms Rickard said.

“In particular, a new trend with dating and romance scams is scammers contacting the victim on social media apps or games which are not designed for dating, so it’s important to be aware that scammers can target you anywhere.”

Common techniques that scammers use to manipulate their victims include making exclusive offers that you don’t want to miss out on, or asking for small commitments, such as completing a survey, to make the victim more likely to comply with larger schemes.

“You can always say no, hang up the phone or delete an email, even if you’ve said yes previously. You don’t owe the scammer anything,” Ms Rickard said.

Assistance

If you think have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed.

The ACCC encourages people to visit www.scamwatch.gov.au to report scams and learn more about what to do if they are targeted by scammers.