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Scam losses are dropping, but Australians still lost $2.74bn in 2023

Latest figures from the ACCC’s National Anti-Scam Centre show a decline in money lost to scams, but work remains to be done.

user icon David Hollingworth
Tue, 30 Apr 2024
Scam losses are dropping, but Australians still lost $2.74bn in 2023
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The National Anti-Scam Centre has released its Targeting Scams report for 2023, and while the news is better than the year before, Australians continue to lose a staggering amount of money to scams.

The good news is that scam losses dropped by 13.1 per cent in 2023.

The bad news is that it still adds up to scam losses of $2.74 billion for the calendar year.


“It is encouraging to see signs that our coordinated scam prevention, detection and disruption initiatives can stem the flow of funds to criminals and protect consumers,” said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Catriona Lowe in a statement.

“We are optimistic that our combined efforts will continue to reduce scam losses. We will continue this important work because losses remain too high, and behind the numbers are real people who have lost money, often every last cent, to scams.

“That’s why we remain committed to ensuring there are no weak links for scammers to exploit. A Scams Code Framework with strong, mandatory and enforceable obligations on banks, telcos and digital platforms will be central to this.”

Australians made more than 601,000 reports to the National Anti-Scam Centre in 2023, which is actually an increase of 18.5 per cent over the previous year despite the drop in money lost.

Investment scams were clearly the most damaging form of scam, costing Aussies $1.3 billion. Remote access scams ranked next, with a cost of $256 million, and romance scams third, costing Australians $201.1 million. Job scams cost victims $24.3 million, an increase of 151.2 per cent from 2022.

The most common contact method was SMS, though spam phone calls caused more losses.

Older Australians suffered the most losses, and scam victims over 65 lost more money in 2023 compared to 2022 – every other age cohort saw a decrease in losses. Many over-65s reported “significant losses” to investment scams in particular.

“Reports to Scamwatch indicate scammers are targeting older Australians with retirement savings, who may be looking for investment opportunities,” Lowe said.

“We know of a recent case where an elderly woman lost her life savings after seeing a deepfake Elon Musk video on social media, clicking the link and registering her details online. She was assigned a ‘financial advisor’ and could see on an online dashboard she was apparently making returns, but she couldn’t withdraw her money.

“We will partner with other organisations to tackle the most harmful scams, and we will continue to raise scams awareness with the people who are most at-risk as we work towards our common goal of making Australia a harder target for scammers.”

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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