$26.5 million gone in ‘devastating blow’

·3-min read
A young woman doing online shopping and a hand holding a phone receiving a call from an unknown number.
Vulnerable Aussies are being targetted by criminals as report of scams increases 50 per cent in AUgust (Source: Getty)

It’s been a tough year for Aussies with the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant forcing businesses to close and lockdowns to come back into place.

On top of that, criminals have been taking advantage of vulnerable Aussies with reports of scams increasing 50 per cent last month.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Scamwatch found Aussies reported 26,700 scams in July, which increased to 40,890 in August.

Aussies lost $26.5 million in a single month, and $192 million so far this year.

Crispin Kerr, Australia and New Zealand area vice-president of Proofpoint, said the numbers demonstrate how scammers are staying “active and diligent”.

“In August, Australians lost a total of $26.5 million to scams, a devastating blow during what is already a very difficult time for many,” Kerr said.

“Concerningly, the number of scams reported increased significantly and almost doubled compared to the same time last year. While it is good to see Australians reporting scams to the ACCC, the sheer volume of scam activity is alarming.”

Identity theft rises 500 per cent

Identity theft scams saw Aussies lose more than $2.2 million in August, a staggering increase of more than 500 per cent over the $352,590 lost in July.

The shocking figure also represents a 700 per cent increase compared to the $251,750 lost in August 2020.

Aussies aged 45 to 54 were most financially impacted by these scams, losing more than half a million dollars, followed by Australians aged 25 to 34.

“With technology integrated into almost every aspect of our daily life, it's important to remember that even the most tech-literate people are not immune to scams,” Kerr said.

“We urge younger Australians especially, to refresh their knowledge and awareness around scams and remain diligent.”

August saw an increase in scams targeting younger Aussies with a high success rate. Aussies aged between 34 to 44 have lost around 7 million in August.

Aussies in lockdown hit hardest

NSW residents continue to be the most financially impacted by scams as COVID-19 lockdowns continue.

NSW residents suffered financial losses of almost $11 million, while the number of scams reported to the ACCC increased by 52 per cent compared to July.

Meanwhile Victorians reported a 65 per cent spike in scams compared to the previous month and suffered losses of more than $6 million.

“Scammers are continuing to capitalise on the pandemic such as the ongoing vaccine rollout,” Kerr said.

”This month, the amount lost to health and medical product scams increased by 15 times over the amount lost to these type of scams in July, suggesting scammers are very much leveraging current events to steal from Australians.”

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