Home Security Scammers stole $340m from Australians in 2017

Scammers stole $340m from Australians in 2017

Scammers stole $340m from Australians in 2017 Featured

Australians lost $340 million to scams in 2017, a rise of $40 million over the 2016 figure, according to data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

In its ninth annual Targeting scams report, the competition watchdog said in 2017, more than 200,000 scams had been reported to the ACCC, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network and other federal and state-based government agencies.

Investment scams topped the list at $64 million, while dating and romance scams were second at $42 million.

“It’s very worrying that Australians are losing such extraordinary amounts to scammers. Based on just the reports provided to the ACCC, victims are losing an average of $6500. In some cases people have lost more than $1 million,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“Some scams are becoming very sophisticated and hard to spot. Scammers use modern technology like social media to contact and deceive their victims. In the past few years, reports indicate scammers are using aggressive techniques both over the phone and online.”

The ACCC report came at the beginning of Scam Awareness Week 2018 and the organisation said this year its Scamwatch initiative was asking people to "stop and check: is this for real?" when they were contacted by anyone who claimed to be from a public or private sector organisation.

About 33,000 reports of threat-based impersonation scams were received by Scamwatch in 2017, $4.7 million was lost and more than 2800 individuals revealed personal data to scammers, the ACCC said.

“These scams can be very frightening. For example, scammers will impersonate the Australian Taxation Office and threaten people with immediate arrest unless they pay an outstanding tax bill. They may pretend to be from Telstra to try to hack into your computer or from Centrelink promising extra payments in return for a ‘fee’,” Rickard said.

“Scammers scare us or butter us up with promises of cash because they know it clouds our judgment. People get so worried about being arrested they don’t question if the person threatening them is genuine.

“If you’re being threatened, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if the call makes sense. The ATO will never threaten you with immediate arrest; Telstra will never need to access your computer to ‘fix’ a problem; and Centrelink will never require a fee to pay money it owes you. Finally, none of these organisations will ask you to pay using iTunes gift cards.

“If something doesn’t feel right, hang up the phone or hit delete. If the person said they were, for example, from Telstra or the ATO, find the phone number for that organisation online or in the phone book, call them and let them know about the call you received. They’ll let you know if it’s genuine or a scam.”

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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