The financial burden has been significant – of the 2,632 lottery and prize money scams reported this year, only 4.1 per cent resulted in financial loss – but that amounted to $757,482.
Surprisingly, these types of scams appear to overwhelmingly affect women, who account for 71 per cent of the victims.
The rise of ‘smishing’ scams
The most common way scammers have been targeting Aussies is through phishing, with a large increase month on month in April of phishing through text message (known as smishing), up 20 per cent.
Cyber security agency Proofpoint’s ANZ vice president Crispin Kerr said smishing scams will often use fake branding of an organisation, like a company logo, combined with a sense of urgency and a request to click on a malicious link.
“The latest figures from the ACCC are consistent with a wider global trend that text messages are becoming one of the most preferred ways for cybercriminals to target victims,” Kerr said.
“With virtually all Australian adults owning a mobile phone, this makes this channel of communication ideal for cybercriminals to steal personal information and commit further crimes like identity fraud.”
Additionally, more businesses have been using mobile messaging to communicate with consumers which has increased consumer trust.
Top types of scams reported
Investment scams remain the most damaging type of scam in terms of financial loss, costing Australians more than $8 million in April 2021, up 22 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Dating and romance scams were the second largest source of money lost throughout April, amounting to more than $1.5 million.
Phishing scams prevailed as the most common type of scam reported, with 4,463 reports in April, up 42 per cent compared to a year ago.
False billing scams were the second highest scam by number of reports in April, up 31 per cent compared to March and the highest in more than a year.
What to look out for
Kerr said while it is promising to see an overall reduction in the amount of money lost in the last month, it’s important not to get complacent.
“Scammers are constantly evolving their attack techniques and tailoring them to current events such as the ongoing pandemic or the upcoming tax time,” he said.
“For these reasons, the next surge of scam activity is never too far away and with this in mind, we would advise people to remain cautious.”
Kerr said the best thing to do if you think you have been scammed is to refrain from clicking on any links and report the scam to the ACCC.
“Only communicate with an organisation through official channels that are typically listed on their company website and never give out your personal information to an unsolicited source,” Kerr said.
“By knowing these simple safe practices and what to look out for, you can help to prevent financial losses for yourself, your business and loved ones.”