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Staggering increase in scams as ‘troubling trend’ emerges

Sydney, Australia - November 5, 2015: Diversified people crowd crossing rain wet street. Scene from central Sydney.
Be on the lookout for dangerous scams. (Image: Getty).

Australians lost a combined $63.1 million to scams in the first three months of 2021, marking an increase of 73 per cent on the same period in 2020.

The latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show that in March alone, men lost $14.2 million to scams while women lost $5.9 million.

And across the quarter, investment scams were the most expensive, costing Australians $30.1 million, or nearly half of the total amount lost.

“One of the more troubling trends we’ve observed over the last quarter is that Australians are losing more money despite an overall decrease in the total number of scams reported,” cybersecurity firm Proofpoint ANZ area vice-president Crispin Kerr said.

"This suggests cybercriminals are becoming more effective and damaging in their targeting, extracting greater sums of money from Australians with less attempts."

Phishing scams made up 23 per cent of all scams in the first quarter of the year, an increase of 169 per cent in 2020, while the number of scams delivered by text message also increased 38 per cent.

“These statistics show that cybercriminals are not letting up and instead ramping up activity, utilising social engineering to play on the vulnerabilities and fears of Australian citizens.”

He said this was evidenced by the increase in health and medical product scams, with money lost to these scams increasing more than 300 per cent in March alone.

“We encourage Australians to exercise vigilance and common sense with all methods of communication. If you think you have received communication from a scammer, whether that’s across email, text message, over the phone, or social media, do not click on any links or share any personal information such as banking or credit card details,” he said.

“If you’re not sure if a communication is legitimate, contact the organisation directly. Changing passwords regularly or using a password manager are other simple steps you can take to protect your personal information from cyber criminals.”

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance