$90 million lost to scams

Despite most of us knowing that scams are incredibly prevalent, a whopping $90 million was reported lost to scams in 2013. Were you almost tricked?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released on Monday its Targeting Scams Report for 2013, which reveals that over 90,000 Australians reported scams totalling $89,136,975 million. During National Fraud Week, which commenced on Monday, the ACCC is highlighting the need for all Australians to remain vigilant and report any scams which may be circulating.

And the news isn’t good for those looking for love. While dating and romance scams only accounted for three per cent of scams reported, they topped the financial losses, with $25 million reported lost. ACCC Deputy Chair Della Rickard reported that 43 per cent of those who reported being approached by a scam admirer resulted in a financial loss. “People should be particularly vigilant in asking themselves who they are really dealing with when they meet the person online. Scammers take advantage of the internet to establish relationships behind a smoke screen, where they remain anonymous while connecting with people around the globe with the click of a button,” said Ms Rickard.

Phone scams remain the most popular, accounting for 52 per cent of those reported, however, online scams resulted in the most lost, a staggering $42 million.

It’s important to remain vigilant and the ACCC has published a Scam Identifier List to help identify and disengage from an online scammer:

  1. You’ve never met or seen them: scammers will say anything to avoid a ‘face-to-face’ meeting, whether it be in person or over the internet via a video chat – don’t excuse it away.
  2. They’re not who they appear to be: scammers steal photos and profiles from real people to create an appealing facade. Run a Google Image search on photos and search words in their description to check if they’re the real deal.
  3. They ask to chat with you privately: scammers will try and move the conversation away from the scrutiny of community platforms to a one-on-one interaction such as email or phone – ‘walk’ away if this happens to you.
  4. You don’t know a lot about them: scammers are keen to get to know you as much as possible, but are less forthcoming about themselves. Ask yourself, ‘how well do I really know this person?’
  5. They ask you for money:  once the connection has been made – be it as a friend, admirer, or business partner – scammers will ask you to transfer money. Don’t fall for a tall tale, no matter how plausible it sounds.

The report and further information on National Consumer Fraud Week is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au.