Australians Lost Over 400 Million U.S. Dollars to Scams in 2019
The year 2019 was a bad one for Australian consumers, particularly investors. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published a report recently which outlined Aussies have lost more than AU$634 million (US$435.2 million) to scams throughout the year.
The figures on financial losses to scams quoted by the ACCC originate from Scamwatch, the big four banks (ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac) and other government agencies.
AU$126 million of the total of AU$634 million stolen in 2019 was lost to investment scams. This made investment scams the largest category out of all other scams reported, such as dating and romance, false billing, hacking, online shopping, identity theft and all others.
Investment fraudsters offer fake and lucrative investment opportunities. Victims are promised high returns with low risk. This can include fake initial stock or coin offerings, brokerage services, binary options or other investments. To attract victims, scammers often use professional looking websites and brochures.
In its report, the ACCC has stated “Scammers continue to adapt their strategies and technology use. In the past scams have relied on persuading a victim to hand over money or personal information. While this is still the norm, many scams, including phone porting scams, now operate with limited contact or none at all, making it difficult for targets to recognise and avoid them,”
“Scammers have moved to unexpected platforms to target victims. For example, in 2019 we saw dating and romance scammers targeting unsuspecting victims through gaming apps such as Words With Friends, and investment scammers targeting Facebook and Instagram users with ‘get rich quick’ cryptocurrency investment scams.”