Aussies are losing a hefty amount of money to scammers – and the black hole is getting bigger every year, according to competition watchdog ACCC.
Total combined losses reported to Scamwatch and other government agencies exceeded $489 million – $149 million more than 2017, ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
And this figure is only the “tip of the iceberg”, she added.
Last year saw more than 378,000 scams reported to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN), as well as federal- and state-based agencies such as the ATO.
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The largest amount of money was lost to investment scams which saw Aussies $86 million out-of-pocket, followed by dating and romance scams at $60.5 million.
Both types of scams have been on the rise, tricking people out of more money than in previous years, and it causes emotional damage as well as financial, Rickard said.
“Scammers are adapting old scams to new technology, seeking payment through unusual methods and automating scam calls to increase their reach to potential victims,” she said.
Late last year, Yahoo Finance reported on scammers posing as the ATO urging people to pay fake debts.
Scammers fooled people into believing they’re the real deal by using technology that displays caller ID as a legitimate number.
And increasingly, scammers are asking people to pay these fake debts or fines through unconventional means such as Bitcoin or gift cards such as iTunes cards.
“Scammers are using pressure and fear tactics combined with technology to trick people into parting with their money,” Rickard said.
Scammers also ask for money via iTunes cards, Google Play cards and cryptocurrencies to avoid the anti-scam measures employed by banks and money laundering detection systems.
Businesses have been targets as well: a ‘business email compromise scam’, where scammers are impersonating key personnel and asking victims to make changes to their bank account details so money is transferred to the scammer’s account, saw losses of more than $60 million last year, according to the ACCC.
You can report scams to the Scamwatch website at scamwatch.gov.au.
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