Aussies lose $80 million to scams

Australians aged 45 and over accounted for 68 per cent of money lost to scams in 2014.

In conjunction with the launch of National Consumer Fraud Week, the ACCC has released the latest national scam figures for 2014. Almost $82 million was lost to scams last year, down from the $89.1 million loss in 2013 and $93.4 million in 2012. Australians aged 45 and over accounted for 68 per cent of the total losses to scams in 2014, but accounted for just 55 per cent of scam reports.

Almost 92,000 scams reported by consumers and small businesses were recorded by the ACCC with around 11,000 of those reporting a loss of money. The top three scam sectors last year were dating and romance schemes at $28 million, investment schemes at $12 million, and betting and sports investment schemes at $9 million.

In 2014, 53 per cent of reported scams were delivered via telephone call or text message, accounting for over $23 million of losses, while online scams accounted for over 37 per cent of reported scams and over $47 million in scam losses for the year. A wide selection of ‘other’ scams make up the final nine per cent of reported scams and almost $11 million in losses.

The top 10 scams to look out for in order are:

  1. reclaim scams
  2. phishing
  3. remote access
  4. ID theft
  5. hacking
  6. inheritance scams
  7. unexpected prize and lottery
  8. classified scams
  9. false billing
  10. ransomware and malware.

SCAMwatch recommends you follow these six tips to protect yourself from scams:

  • keep your personal details secure
  • think twice about what you say and do in an online environment
  • keep your mobile devices and computers secure
  • choose your passwords carefully
  • beware of any request for your details or money
  • get a copy of your credit report.


Opinion: Smarter but still vulnerable

The overall figures for scams have decreased year-on-year since 2012, but even a decrease to $82 million isn’t a win in the battle against scammers. There is no question in my mind that the general public is starting to catch onto the methods that scammers are now using, but that doesn’t mean Australians aren’t still vulnerable.

Scammers continue to think of new and improved ways to scam their victims. In 2014, the use of stolen user data was the new method of choice for savvy scammers. The most unique approach I saw was where the scammer logs onto the stolen Facebook or email account of a user and contacts all of the user’s friends. In this email, or direct message, they tell the friend that they had been robbed in an overseas country, losing both their wallet and passport. The scammer asks for a small amount of money between $200 and $800 to be sent via untraceable money transfer.

While the numbers may look rosey, internet scams continue to account for the largest losses, and the number of scams will only continue to increase in coming years. I am the target of several scams every day, but just like most Australians, I don’t report them. I suspect the report released by the ACCC would read very differently in this regard if we all reported them. 

Have you been the target of a scam? Did you fall victim? Did you end up reporting the scam and loss of money?


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    Golden Oldie
    19th May 2015
    I received a scam a while ago, telling me a friend was in Europe working with an aid company where that plane crash occurred, and asking for money because she had been robbed of her money and passport. I thought this very unlikely, so picked up the phone and rang her, to advise her of what was happening. Fortunately, she was already aware of the problem, but could not ring her friends herself because she had had her contacts list stolen.
    19th May 2015
    golden oldie doesn't tell us how the scammers knew of any link between themselves and the friend in europe.
    how would a scammer know that you had a friend overseas.
    19th May 2015
    By the sounds of it, the friend wasn't actually in Europe, but the scammers who operate out of Europe need you to believe the friend is there, so you wire transfer the cash to that European city.
    19th May 2015
    That's where social media comes in and all those inane posts about being in a café in (insert place) complete with photo of said coffee!
    19th May 2015
    KSS Hear hear.
    19th May 2015
    I'm scammed every month by the British Government who won't index link my paid for State Pension because I live here in Oz and not in one of hundreds of other countries around the world
    19th May 2015
    yes longdistancerunner....there ae many SCAMS AND SCAMBAGS...some in our own families (LOL) The UK is not the only country that has such a restriction....however, do empathize with you. WHY TO HAVE TO BECOME A BEGGER WHEN ACTUALLY YOU HAVE WORKED FOR YOUR PENSION. Lfe is no fair! Reminds me of a theatre played I saw overseas moons ago: it was entitled: STOP THE WORLD...I WISH TO GET OFF. Have a great day!
    19th May 2015
    TO THE SITE MANAGERS-------------There has been a change to something associated with this site recently. I is very slow in acknowledging the Post Button. In the belief that it hasn't posted, it causes posters to select Post Reply multiple times and get multiple posts of the same entry. Thus the multiple from MILA.
    19th May 2015
    I cant believe that people fall for the overseas lottery scams. How on earth could you be a winner if you never bought a ticket in the first place!! Duh....
    19th May 2015
    Agree, people need to wise up...can't sit back and be victims...I've got several messages on my mobile that I've won uk lottery etc, 'duh'. Deleted immediately.
    21st May 2015
    If people are still so stupid to fall for these scams on their heads be it.
    There have been so many warnings, in all the media for years now the only answer I can come up with is one word "greed". I am referring to the lottery scams, etc.

    As for the scams on those romance sites I have no answer for that one. The moment anyone asked me for money the warning bells would be ringing loud and clear.

    Defies belief the huge amounts males and females have willing sent off shore to someone they have never ever met. Their commonsense must go out the window once someone says they "love them" and whisper sweet nothings via the internet.
    19th May 2015
    While greed exists in people they will always be susceptible to scams. One example that readily springs to mind is a neighbour of a colleague who is ex AFP who sought his advice about a letter she had got regarding a win in an overseas lottery. Regardless of his advice that it was a scam the silly woman still sent of her money expecting to get the winnings in a lottery she had not bought a ticket in in the first place and was extremely disappointed not to get anything in return. Sometimes you just cannot help a sever case of stupidity.
    19th May 2015
    Make that severe.
    19th May 2015
    Great contribution Gra you stutter?
    19th May 2015
    Nnnnnnnnnn No.
    19th May 2015
    Thanks for your informative articles: always welcome
    It is weird to hear about all these huge amounts of $$$ lost in on-line scams. Seniors have access via Community Centres countrywide to learn about how to use a computer. Moreover, in local libraries one finds books on loan about computers and how to protect ourselves: e.g. Microsoft for Seniors, etc. Seniors also have families and probably their grandchildren knkow more aout computers than themselves!! lol. So much has been pulicized about scams that is very difficult to locally understand how people can be so blooming dumb to fall for them. TV shows: e.g. Current affairs and others....again and again they present cases about love and other type of scams. WHO IN A SANE MIND WOULD SEND MONEY$$$ TO STRANGERS? OR GIVE THE COMPUTER/BANK DETAILS TO TELECALLERS? As for Facebook: again: another 1: besides getting familiar about keeping your privacy (all in FB page) - remember that not only your relatives and friends can have access to your page WITH PLENTY OF INFORMATION AND PHOTOS....but, their own friends: HENCE, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE SNOOPING ABOUT YOU AND YOUR AFFAIRS. It has been said NOT TO WRITE IN FB IF YOU ARE GOING AWAY , but, it is a personal choice and responsability to take care of our own assets. IF NOT, WELL, LET STUPIDITY PREVAAIL. Not here!
    19th May 2015

    I WROTE: So much has been pulicized about scams that is very difficult to locally understand how people can be so blooming dumb to fall for them.

    when i meant: LOGICALLY understand etc. Thanks!
    19th May 2015
    Darn iPads make changes to our words...I got it (logically) when I read your post.
    Totally agree.
    As mentioned below in my post this information is freely available via television shows, news, etc and STIlL people stuff up.
    19th May 2015
    Indian call centres have my land line number and constantly call me claiming to be my computer technician etc. The Do Not Call Register does not work for these calls. They will never catch me out but are very irritating and take up my time unnecessarily running to answer the phone in case it is a family member who needs help. They are so numerous how can you report them. Thanks John Howard for allowing Telstra to provide them with our details!
    19th May 2015
    Just tell them you have a Mac! They can't 'fix' those!!!
    19th May 2015
    Yep ring me as well usually tell them to P---off that does the trick.
    19th May 2015
    I screen ALL my calls per answering machine. iIt's truly amazing how often it rings only for the 'caller' to hang up. Sometimes you can hear the chatter and hustle and bustle of the call centre. I phone back anyone legitimate. Computers are the BIG
    one to watch out for. Always have to be seriously alert.
    20th May 2015
    I also receive these calls purporting to be from Telstra and advising I have a virus in my computer, these 'lovely' people will remove the virus free of charge if I just follow the instructions. Being retired and having some spare time I sometimes feel like a bit of fun and pretend to go along with them by being a little simple and getting the instructions wrong, not quite hearing what is being said, becoming confused and all the time thanking them for being so lovely to a poor old lady. Takes up their time and they become very impatient and usually ends with me changing my mind and deciding I'll get my tech savvy friend, neighbour or child to help me. Honestly can not believe anyone could fall for this one but as I receive calls every few months it must be viable for the scammers or they wouldn't do it.
    19th May 2015
    Just goes to show just how gullible and greedy Australians are. Overseas lotteries you didn't enter, inheritances from dead relatives you didn't know you had in places you didn't know existed, requests for money from someone you met on a dating site 10 minutes ago who just lurches from one crisis to the next (sick mother, no money for a plane ticket, school fees, medical expenses, rent, food......) all needing urgent funding from you, get rich quick schemes = invest $X receive 10 x $X in 6 months, dead cert in the third at Doncaster, paying invoices for things you didn't order and haven't received (think small businesses and advertising), and not forgetting the multi-million dollars some top ranking military or ex-Government Official or wife thereof, wants to smuggle out of some war-torn or poverty stricken African country via your bank account for which assistance you will receive several million dollars for your time!

    One current scam involves an e-mail supposedly from Pay Pal saying your account has been frozen and just 'click here' to re-enter your details! Another from the dating site type is making contact with someone, they 'perform' for you via Skype or similar then ask you to do the same! You do but unknown to you your 'performance' is recorded and then you are blackmailed into paying to keep it off the internet!! And perhaps the most insidious is the hacking of your computer and the hacker secretly using the camera on it to film you. Imagine what they would see if your computer was in your bedroom for example. They then hold the recording and your computer hostage until you pay large sums of money to release it.

    There is no legislating for stupidity!!!
    19th May 2015
    Very true KSS...however those crooks would have to be very savvy to scam people on this they all seem to be poor hard done by pensioners who are barely surviving.
    19th May 2015
    True Sum1 ;-).

    And not one comment today (from 20 responses) blaming Mr Abbott!! Is this a record????? (1.39pm)
    19th May 2015
    Yes I have had this pay Pal email as well but of course I don"t have a paypal account .
    Ha Ha.
    19th May 2015
    And don't forget the unsolicited job offers. "No experience necessary, just give us your bank/credit card details so we can pay you large amounts for doing not very much!"
    19th May 2015
    I have just purchased 2 SkimGuard Cards which is developed by the USA National Crime Stop Program. It protects your identity and credit card information from would be crowd trackers.
    You place it in your wallet with your credit cards or in with your passport to prevent skimmers obtaining all your important data. It protects multiple cards and immediately creates a 10mm E-field which jams and scrambles your RFID chip signal. It is battery free with a five year life span. I'm getting a couple for my family as well.
    19th May 2015
    Great idea
    19th May 2015
    Don't be a fool, don't open dodgy emails, don't get involved in on line romances - just don't.
    If you act in this way life will be much simpler.

    I know that people are lonely - looking for a life partner or just a companion and they should look in their own backyard where they know the person or someone they know is aware of the person that you are talking to.

    I have a friend who married an Asian lady and now has 4 kids with her. His words to me were I don't know how many are mine or someone else's. I just can't walk away because I am scared of the possible reaction from her community. I feel threatened and unsafe and my home is not my own these days.

    My advice be very careful.
    19th May 2015
    That's a sad story, Dougie.
    19th May 2015
    Sad but true and it wrenches the gut from my friend but he is terrified of his wife's friends and associates, evidently he has been threatened very quietly and it would seem that such activities are common. Thank god I have the wife I married almost 60 years ago and even though at times she scares the hell out of me we are best mates and the love goes on.
    Young Simmo
    19th May 2015
    I find it hard to believe that there are so many dumb stupid people around.
    Almost daily on the news is a story about people getting scammed and loosing heaps of money.
    Almost daily on the news is advice for people, "If you don't know it, or who it is from, don't open it".
    I can only assume that all the fools getting caught have a grudge against their money.
    We have had computers and been on the internet since we were 60 in the year 2000, and never lost a zac.
    At least you only have your self to blame, nobody else clicked your mouse for you.
    OK I am ready, sock it to me.
    19th May 2015
    Couldn't agree more young Simmo.
    In the past I understand how people could be tricked but now, for goodness sake we have:- A current affair tv show nightly that spells out this info; Money Magazine sold at supermarkets or free at libraries that warns of scams and educates quite simply; Dept Fair Trading (NSW) that has heaps of free online info and and in their
    Offices they have a booklet.
    19th May 2015
    Am on a bit of a roll here...really if people are tricked etc into loosing big sums of money to 'online boyfriends/girlsfriends' well more fool them. No decent person would try and borrow money from another...this request should be a HUGE warning.

    And again, if peopke entrust their money to a 'trusted accountant, financial advisor etc' well again more fool them. Usually I believe it's the lure of higher returns that would have people engaging with dodgy scam artists.

    I suppose the only people I am sympathetic to are the disabled, aged or folk with early stage dementia who are somewhat vulnerable to the pressure of a con artist.
    21st May 2015
    I use Paypal and I often get emails purporting to be from Paypal saying that I had purchased an item from Apple or somewhere else for a sum usually over a hundred dollars. They then go on to say if you have not made this purchase please click this link. Of course once you do that you are in their clutches.

    I know immediately it is a scam because the email is also not addressed to me personally.

    Paypal always start theirs off with your name.

    19th May 2015
    You couldn't believe how much money I have won in Nigeria and how many deceased unknown relatives I have all who have willed me their hard earned millions and to collect all these fortunes all I have to do is send a bit of personal information such as my bank account numbers and my date of birth ,address and full name, how hard can that be.

    Just can"t bring myself to do it.

    Ah well I will just have to live off what I have and NOT LET ANYONE ELSE LIVE OF WHAT I HAVE
    19th May 2015
    If it looks to good to be true that is how I treat it and dismiss it.

    I always ask for a Traders Name and address and a number to call or email address. If none of these are available or are refused. I hand up and report the matter to Scam Alert.
    Young Simmo
    19th May 2015
    I might also add that even though I have been registered on the "Do Not Call" register for a few years, I still get the occasional Pilipino / Indian accent claiming to be from Microsoft. A couple of years ago I went to the local sports shop and bought an extremely high frequency whistle. When I get those nuisance calls I give them a long blast hoping that they have head phones on or even better ear plugs in. I hope they end up temporally deaf, because I end up happy.
    19th May 2015
    Last year I had to replace my credit card twice due to fraud.
    The first was a message from the bank that someone tried to pay a $12,000 restaurant bill in London.
    The second followed a purchase from a link on this site.
    In the end I did not lose any money just the hassle of getting new cards all the time.
    Added to this all the emails and phone calls from scammers.
    A. N. Onymous
    19th May 2015
    Re the “Your computer has viruses” calls, I have received these every now and then for several years. The first time that it happened I was wary. The caller was a woman, and the conversation went like this:

    She said, "You have a virus on your computer."
    I said, "How do you know?"
    She said (again), "You have a virus on your computer."
    I said (again), "How do you know?"
    She said (for a third time), "You have a virus on your computer."
    I said, "How do you know? How do you know whether I even have a computer? How do you know whether I live in a house or a tent? How do you know whether I drive a car or a truck?"
    She hung up.

    After that first experience I did some research online, and this confirmed that my wariness was justified. I also read what some other people had done, and in my subsequent experiences I have used some methods of handling the calls that others had used and some new ones that I developed myself. What I do depends on how much time I have and my mood at the time -- (a), (b), and (c) are the ones I use most often, in that order. I have only used (d), (e), and (f) once (so far).

    (a) If I have time, I play along, taking as much time as possible for everything -- the caller is wasting my time; I waste as much of his as I can. When he reaches the point where he tells me to use the Windows key and describes it and tells me where it's found, I tell him that that key on my computer has a picture of an apple. At this point the caller usually tells me that they only support Windows computers, not Apple, and hangs up. (Sometimes they just hang up.)

    (b) I say that I used to have a computer but don't any more. Or that the person in the house who owned the computer has moved out and taken it with him.

    (c) I say "Hello" when I answer the phone; but as soon as I hear the opening sentence about being from Microsoft or some other PC repair company, I talk over the caller as though my "Hello" was the start of a recorded message that I continue like this, "We're not home now; but if you leave your name and number after the beep, we'll get back to you." Then I press the timer button on my microwave which is very close to the phone.

    (d) Once there was a TV program I wanted to watch that was just about due to start. I told the caller I would turn the computer on, and then I went and watched my program (leaving the phone off the hook and the caller waiting for me to return). Half an hour later when my program was over I went back to the phone. The caller had of course hung up. Unbelievably, the next afternoon she rang again and said something about our being cut off. I said in a delighted tone, "Oh, yes, thank you -- it's working all right now!" Then I hung up.

    (e) Another time I said to the caller (many of whom have Indian voices), "May Karma do to your family what you are trying to do to others" and hung up.

    (f) On the most recent call (sometime in the last couple of months), I calmly said to the caller, “Do you have a family?” When he said he did, I said (again calmly), “Can’t you find something else to do to support them, to put food on the table and a roof over your heads? I know this is a scam. Can’t you do something that won’t hurt other people?”

    He told me that I was right and said, “I will leave this job today and return to God.”

    A fortnight or so later I had a call where the speaker hung up when I said, “Hello.” I know that many of these scams work on calling multiple numbers so that when one person answers, all the other calls are discontinued; and I felt this was the case on this occasion. Later I wondered if it was the same man who had NOT left the job and returned to God and who had now hung up because he recognised my voice. (A long shot, I know, but possible, especially as both calls were about the same time of the day.)

    In all cases I have NOT done anything the caller asked me to do.
    19th May 2015
    Thank you very much please.
    Not Senile Yet!
    19th May 2015
    Yep...some people are just dumb!!!
    Biggest scam going right now ......and has been going on for quite a few not from outside Australia!!!!
    No it is committed right here in on TV....everyday and every election!
    People stand for election clearly stating that they are members of a Party and ask you to elect them to represent you in Parliament!!!!
    But they cannot do that if they are a member of a Political Party......they have to do what the Party Caucus Tells obey the party policies.....whever they agree or not!!!
    But guessed it.....people vote for them!!!!
    Oh.....what was voted for the Party!!!
    The person who represents you doesn't matter????
    WHO is getting scammed????
    You actually want a Puppet as an MP???......Someone who is told how and when to vote Yes......regardless of the legislation being unfairly aimed at a minority or majority that is both unfair and discriminating???
    Oh is voluntary on your are happy to be scammed......and happy to allow an invisible Caucus who are not make have that power?
    Yes.....only stupid or gullible people fall for Scams.....couldn't agree more!!!
    20th May 2015
    While I'd agree with some of the comments remonstrating the people who have been scammed, the people making the comments are sounding very much like the people who like to blame the victims as opposed to the offender. The same people who say things like; "Well she should have known better than to dress like that" (about a rape victim) or "Serves them right for leaving their door unlocked" (about victims of home robbery) or "He shouldn't have got involved" (about a person getting bashed for trying to help another victim). Perhaps they are perfect and never makes mistakes and have never been victims, hopefully they never will be and then be on the receiving end of other people who don't give a shit.
    20th May 2015
    True to a degree. However, as long as there are ignorant, naive, desperate people and greed as motivators, there will always be suckers. The peretrator and the victim has to take equal responsibility. Scammers, terrorists, politicians, earthquakes, cyclones, etc are all natural disasters we should all try to avoid as much as possible.
    20th May 2015
    bartpcb, agree with you to a certain point but then again some of the scammed people come across as smart and some are professional people,how they get sucked in is a mystery. Could be they desperate for love in their lives., Think they should look closer to home or tell someone with a level head what they propose doing.
    Precious 1
    20th May 2015
    I just cannot understand really and really how people can willingly give huge amounts of money (From investments) cos you cannot keep vast amounts in local accounts withdrawing on demand can you.......has anyone ever investigated any of these women who claim to have lost large amounts to online scamming.....whenever I had need to withdraw large amounts like that the teller would generally men tion and ask me what it was for in so many words that is...know my habits etc etc and do these people ever get these amounts refunded by people who are rich and send them a substantial amount to tide them over lolol,,,I know there are some out there who play the sytem or we read about them and also some and I say some renovation shows here and there who claim to have had very substantial and generous amounts sent to them to aid the account and finish the job on time.......
    21st May 2015
    One basic rule to never being caught by scammers.

    Whether or not it looks or sounds suspicious, if it involves parting with money or private and personal knowledge then check an email by just clicking 'Reply', or searching the 'Message Source' section of your email programme.
    If you don't know how, then take the time to learn how and send a reply, a scam will show, 'Unknown', Incorrect' or similar in all scam situations.

    People wouldn't give a stranger in the street their bank account number, or hundreds of dollars, yet give to strangers on-line.

    If a telephone call is suspicious, ask for a number to call back because you are busy, a scammer will NEVER give a number to call.
    4th May 2017
    A friend was scammed by internet fraud. A tractor was advertised in Q'ld. for a really great price. After the initial contact the next move was supposedly through EBAY. The trouble is they cut and pasted the ebay pages. The story was it was cheap because it belonged to her brother in law who was dying. There was back and forth through email and ebay (supposedly) from Jessica n Hibos Noqesyk. (Apparently Hibos in Phillipino means scam!) They started to get really pushy and really had to sell this tractor. Anyway, the money was paid through Western Union - never to see the tractor. The Police said Western Union is the usual method. On further investigating the same tractor was for sale mainly in W.A. by the same email address [email protected] - plus other caravans, motorhomes and farm equipment, all over w.a. -under the names of Jess,Julie, Ju and Lary. This vermin were found to be advestising on several sites. YES, IF IT SOUNDS 'TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE' IT USUALLY IS!

    8th Feb 2020
    At first, I was very skeptical about crypto, but when I made my first investment and my capital and interest were paid, I knew there's no better place to put my money. I still invest and I have regretted every moment. These scammer stolen all my investment within a blink of an eye. All thank to fundsrecovery01 @ gmail. com they helped me recover all my lost funds without upfront payment. I’m so glad I got my money back.

    31st May 2020
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