Aussies lose $80 million to scams

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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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Total Comments: 52
  1. 0

    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.

  2. 0

    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.

  3. 0

    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

    • 0

      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!

    • 0

      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.

  4. 0

    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….

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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.

  5. 0

    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.

  6. 0

    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!

  7. 0


    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!

    • 0

      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.

  8. 0

    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!

    • 0

      Just tell them you have a Mac! They can’t ‘fix’ those!!!

    • 0

      Yep ring me as well usually tell them to P—off that does the trick.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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.

  9. 0

    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!!!

    • 0

      Very true KSS…however those crooks would have to be very savvy to scam people on this forum…as they all seem to be poor hard done by pensioners who are barely surviving.

    • 0

      True Sum1 ;-).

      And not one comment today (from 20 responses) blaming Mr Abbott!! Is this a record????? (1.39pm)

    • 0

      Yes I have had this pay Pal email as well but of course I don”t have a paypal account .
      Ha Ha.

    • 0

      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!”

  10. 0

    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.

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