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$27 million gone: Aussies targeted by scams in lockdown

Two men speak over a video call and a thumb 'liking' the image of a girl on a phone.
Fake jobs and romance scams have been on the rise with Aussies stuck in lockdown (Source: Getty)

In July 2021 alone, Aussie’s lost over $27million in scams according to the ACCC’s Scamwatch.

That’s an increase of 120 per cent compared to July 2020 and NSW was the hardest with around $10 million lost as it continues through an extended lockdown.

Satnam Narang, research engineer at Tenable said COVID-19 and extended lockdowns have contributed to an increase in scams.

“COVID-19 has provided scammers with plenty of fodder to peddle scams in Australia and across the world,” Narang said.

“The economic hardship faced by individuals whose employment has been impacted provides opportunistic scammers with a ripe opportunity to take advantage of those in a time of need.”

Common COVID-19 scams to watch out for

Narang said fake job and employment opportunities often present red flags, such as the lack of a formal interview process and ease of obtaining a ‘too good to be true’ job opportunity.

There are also improper requests for financial information such as bank accounts and routing numbers, Narang said.

There are also some scammers that will seek out potential money mules, which are individuals that help criminals launder stolen funds in order to make it harder to trace.

Aussies struggling with financial hardship due to the pandemic have provided scammers with the opportunity to take advantage through fake get-rich-quick or investment schemes.

“There is no such thing as a get-rich-quick opportunity, but that hasn’t stopped scammers from leveraging this tactic to the tune of $13.4 million in just the last month,” Narang said.

Additionally, as lockdowns make it harder on those yearning for a social connection dating and romance scams are in the top five scams by category, netting scammers $4.8 million in July.

“We would expect the bulk of scams to be centered around modern forms of communication, but seeing that nearly $9 million were stolen through scam phone calls, it’s a reminder that some of the most vulnerable will often be more trusting of traditional forms of communication like phone calls,” Narang said.

Top 5 scams in July

  1. Investment scams - $13 million lost

  2. Romance and dating scams - $4.8 million lost

  3. False billing - $2.3 million lost

  4. Threats to life or arrest - $1.8 million lost

  5. Remote access scams - $1.5 million

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