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The Australian federal government has established a new National Anti-Scam Centre to fight the growing number of scams inflicted on average consumers every day.
The centre was launched today in Melbourne by Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones.
The aims of the centre are simple: raise consumer awareness of scams and how they work, actively disrupt scammers in their operations, and help scam victims find the right services to protect their identity and recover any lost funds.
The National Anti-scam Centre will be administered under the umbrella of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with a regulator steering group, including representatives from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Home Affairs, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), supporting the centre.
The centre is made up of experts from both government and the private sector, as well as law enforcement. The group’s first “fusion cell” is starting work today, 3 June.
“A fusion cell is an expert taskforce from across government, law enforcement, and the private sector who will utilise their expertise and intelligence to disrupt a specific scam,” said Minister Jones in a press release.
“They’ll be nimble and formed to address urgent, high-profile or damaging scams. That’s why the first fusion cell will target investment scams, which currently account for over 50 per cent of all scam losses — costing Australians over $1 billion a year.”
The initial fusion cell will operate for six months and will focus on investment scams at first before reporting its outcomes at the end of the period. The centre itself is currently funded to be fully set up over three years.
“There is a scamdemic,” Miniter Jones said to the press at today’s launch. “No one is safe.”
“The top priority of our new national anti-scams centre is to detect and disrupt scammers before they can reach Australians.”
Catriona Lowe, deputy chair of the ACCC, said investment scams are the most commonly reported scam.
“This additional level of co-ordination and focus across government and relevant industries will target investment scam activity more effectively and help prevent further losses to these scams,” Lowe said.
From 1 July, the ACCC will also be setting up a system for improved data sharing between the private and public sectors when it comes to scams and how they operate.
In 2022 Australians lost more than $3.1 billion to scam operators, according to the ACCC, an increase of just over 50 per cent on the previous year.