Older Aussies popular scam targets

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.

Related articles:
Six scams to watch for in 2016
How to spot online dating scams
Top five worldwide scams

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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