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ACCC reports 84% spike in scam losses

by Charbel Kadib
20 January 2022 | 1 minute read

Australians shed over $300 million last year off the back of a spike in scamming activity.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) latest Scamwatch data, $323.7 million in scam losses were incurred over the 2021 calendar year, up 84 per cent on the previous year ($175.6 million).

The ACCC received approximately 286,608 reports, representing a 32 per cent year-on-year increase (216,086 in 2020).

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The greatest monthly losses were recorded in December, with $43.2 million shed, while the higher number of scam reports (40,874) were received in August.

On a state-by-state basis, NSW residents incurred the greatest losses ($110 million), followed by Victorians ($74 million).

NSW also lodged the largest number of scam reports (92,117), again followed by Victoria (74,597).  

ISCOVER

Investment scams were responsible for the bulk of financial losses, while phishing attacks were the most largely reported by victims.

 

Top 10 Scams – Money lost 2021

Top 10 Scams – Number of Reports 2021

Investment

$177,184,295

Phishing

71,299

Dating and Romance

$56,175,428

Threats to life or arrest

32,425

False billing

$17,303,665

Identity theft

22,354

Remote access scams

$16,412,258

False billing

21,545

Threats to life or arrest

$11,077,551

Online shopping scams

20,694

Identity theft

$10,159,930

Remote access scams

15,697

Online shopping scams

$8,074,469

Hacking

15,141

Classified scams

$7,114,830

Investment scams

9,663

Phishing

$4,324,128

Classified scams

9,560

Hacking

$3,041,484

Prize and lottery scams

4,428

Reflecting on the data, Crispin Kerr, ANZ vice-president at cyber security company Proofpoint, said the spike is the “tip of the iceberg”.   

“Based on the numbers for December, during the holiday season, people can become desensitised to receiving numerous advertising links for shopping deals and the like and may not think twice about opening a dangerous file or clicking a suspicious link,” Kerr said.

“The data shows scammers were extremely active in 2021 and we anticipate this will only increase as scammers continue to evolve and update their tactics.

“Malicious actors will always follow the money and we’ve seen that during the past year, SMS attacks have grown exponentially, because those actors discovered a trusting and captive audience ready to engage on the other end of the phone. It is critical for consumers to remain vigilant.”

 

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres

ACCC reports 84% spike in scam losses
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