Older Australians are the most-targeted demographic for scams

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According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) annual scam report, Australians lost losing hundreds of millions to crafty cons last year.

The report shows how many Australians are being swindled, how much money they are losing and which types of scams are most successful.

This year’s report combines the scam reports of the ACCC, as well as the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN). The ACCC Scamwatch report shows that Australians lost around $85 million last year – a $3 million increase on the previous year. There was also a 15 per cent rise in scam complaints. ACORN’s report shows losses of over $127 million from 25,600 complaints. The combined reported losses, which also include report data from other jurisdictions, totalled $229 million last year.

Older Australians were the main target of investment and online dating scams.

“These scams pose a significant risk for Australians looking for investment opportunities, especially those looking to grow their retirement funds,” said the report.

Of all the scams actually reported to Scamwatch, around $6.3 million was lost to those aged over 55.

In the lead up to National Fraud Week, the ACCC is urging Australians to ‘Wise Up to Scams’, and hopes the report will raise awareness of the crafty cons who are swindling Aussies out of their hard-earned money.

“Investment scams come in many guises including business ventures, superannuation schemes, managed funds and the sale or purchase of shares or property,” warns the ACCC. “Scammers dress up ‘opportunities’ with professional-looking brochures and websites to mask their fraudulent operations and trick unsuspecting Australians.”

“Before parting with your money, do your own research on the investment company and check they have a Australian Financial Services Licence on ASIC’s MoneySmart website. Don’t let anyone pressure you into making decisions about your money or investments,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

Key findings of the Scamwatch report include:

  • 105,201 reports received
  • 9.8 per cent reported losing money
  • Investment and online dating scams make up less than 3.7 per cent of all reports, but account for over 56 per cent of total losses
  • 40 per cent of scams were reported by over 55s
  • more women reported scams, but men lost two thirds more
  • the most popular scam delivery methods were phone (40.9 per cent), email (27.7 per cent), internet/social media networks (11.1 per cent), mail (4.8 per cent), SMS (3.8 per cent) and other scams accounted for 11.7 per cent of the total reported.

The ACCC recommends the following in order to avoid being scammed:

Dating and romance scams:

  • run a Google Image search to check the authenticity of any photos provided – scammers often use fake photos they’ve found online
  • don’t send money or your personal details to someone you meet online – regardless of how convincing their story is
  • never share intimate photos of videos with someone you meet online – they could later use it to blackmail you.

Investment scams:

  • don’t let anyone pressure you into making decisions about your money or investments
  • only invest your money with a managed fund or other investment that is licensed by ASIC and check ASIC’s MoneySmart website
  • do not send you money overseas for an investment offer that has come out of the blue – no matter how attractive or professional it appears.

Read the ACCC report.
Find out more about ACORN.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 17
  1. 0

    Talk about scams! I have one (or more) turkeys doing his best to get me to click on a link in frequent emails sent to me and I am buggered if I can get my scamwatch programme to stop it. Small details are changed pretty much each email so they can’t be scanned, or so it seems. It is a pain in the a**** but never open a link, ANY LINK, in suspect mails.

  2. 0

    There is an email scam at the moment that says it gives you $50 to do a Woolies survey. I can’t post an image but at the bottom it wants your credit or debit card number. What is happening is that they take the $50 instead of giving it to you and if successful try for the same amount or a bit more in subsequent days. Why anyone would give their creditor debit card number for a $50 discount is the real giveaway here.

    Just had a call from 0283173159 but was a bit slow in answering it so no one was there. A Google search of this number reveals it is the car accident scam where they ask if you were involved in an accident etc. CND is certainly a big asset with identifying these callers.

    • 0

      I also had the Woollies scam attempt but replied STOP by texting at the start because each text, whether you do or they do, you pay at least $6 each time from your phone bill but I was susicious from the start.
      Also, I have a security software on my phone which indicates when a call is suspected scam or telemarketer and has the otion of blocking that call number and/or texts.

  3. 0

    it is a shame that governments in general are not giving this issue some attention. Unsuspecting Aussies are being ripped off and the focus has been given to video piracy and protecting American billionaires from losing a few dollars. they can afford it, Aussie pensioners can’t. Surely these cons can be tracked and shut down whether online or on the phone. Seems that there are laws in place to see what I do online.

    • 0

      Sorry ontheedge it is practically impossible to shut down internet scams and if the phone calls come from overseas the same with them.

    • 0

      Practically impossible, doesn’t mean that we just roll over and accept it. We can send satellites to the far ends of the galaxy, send images back to earth of didtant planets, check to see if I have downloaded the latest Hollywood hit, design weapons that will destroy the earth, surely we can work out how to track these scum and shut them down.

  4. 0

    It is rather sad that older people get taken advantage off by these tricksters, I am too polite to use the words I would like to use.
    Obviously it is easier to fool oldies who are a bit befuddled by it all but there are a lot getting taken in through an element of greed. They think they are getting this fantastic offer that is going to give them something for nothing.
    There is “owt for nowt” in this world and some, fortunately of the few, scams I receive are plainly ridiculous.
    How can you win a lottery prize in something in which you never bought a ticket??
    As already said do not open any link you are not sure of and never ever send your bank or credit card details to anyone that you didn’t make the first contact.

  5. 0

    Stay away from:
    You have won a prize.
    I need somebody’s bank account to hide all my money. Willing to share.
    A long lost relative has died and left you money in a will.
    Your computer is running slow and we can fix it, just click here to give us remote access.
    We are from windows and need to fix a virus before it damages your computer.
    Your computer has been infected with a virus click here to fix. (Then you will get a virus)
    Your ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB account is frozen until you can provide some key info.
    You can make $1000 a day working from home, sign up for training, small fee.
    Both my parents have died and I live with a wicked uncle who rapes me, send money
    This is my photograph (fake) I am looking for man to marry, send air fare to meet me.

  6. 0

    The current biggie is the “Vote for me and I will give you this and this and this” scam.

  7. 0

    OLD DOG.
    If these emails are going into your JUNK FILE, just EMPTY it daily. Otherwise the best way is to send to JUNK FILE then individually BLOCK each Email address. It is simple to do.
    Bring up the email, do not open it in the JUNK FILE, hit BLOCK and a box will drop down
    then enter BLOCK in the box. That email address from the originator will be BLOCKED forever from your computer.
    I do mine individually/separately and have never had the email come back from the original source ever again.
    Hope this helps.

  8. 0

    For those that are getting PHONE CALLS, you can get help.

    Go to http://www.donotcall.gov.au and register.

    Once registered you should find that you do not get phone calls from canvassers.
    However, and this is the problem, some firms canvas an area, and phone you out of the local phonebook. A polite “not interested” is all you need as you hang up. That is if you are polite, sometimes I am not.

  9. 0

    I got an email a few days ago purporting to be from PayPal.
    It was referring to a payment of $122.00 that I had allegedly made to a certain party.
    There was a link to check on details.
    The site looked absolutely authentic, but the senders email address looked suspicious.
    The link was almost certainly a trap.
    I deleted the email

  10. 0

    Basically it is a matter of commonsense and realising that scammers and sales thieves will always attempt to appeal or suck you in with the emotions of greed, self doubts and self guilt.
    With Facebook I get many offers of friendship but I do not accept most if they do not have a longstanding record of photos nor friends to show and have little to say about themselves.
    Phone calls……just say that you are too busy and have to get ready for work or that you are not interested.
    Never wait to listen to their explanations as they are designed to suck you in by appealling to your emotions and if you have won something, you NEVER NEED TO PAY FOR YOUR PRIZE and never think…What if!
    When I did win an Audi, I was in so much disbelief even though I had entered into a few lotteries that I thought the call was a scam!

    • 0

      I did ask for the name of the lottery and what I had won but I was still in so much disbelief that I handed the phone over to my partner who is a businessman and would be better able to suss it out.
      All was good but I did not allow myself to become too excited until I saw the car and had filled out the necessary papers.
      This was 2 yrs ago and I am still enjoying driving this beautiful black Audi.

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