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ACCC data shows scam-related losses up by 50%

Latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch show that Aussies have lost more than $34 million to all types of scams in January 2022.

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Tue, 01 Mar 2022
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This figure is up more than 50 per cent compared at the start of 2021, but down from the $43 million in losses reported in December 2021, which was a record month for losses in 2021. There were 21,110 scams reported to the ACCC in January, an increase of 45 per cent from the previous month.

According to Adrian Covich, senior director at Proofpoint, last year was a record-breaking year for scams with more than $323 million in losses and 286,000 reports according to Scamwatch.

"While it is promising to see a decline in the amount lost to scams compared to the end 2021, looking at the statistics from the same period last year highlights just how successful scammers have become at stealing from hard-working Australians."

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"With scammers and cyber criminals continuously reinventing their tactics and finding new ways to exploit Australians for financial gain, there is every chance we will see these statistics continue to rise this year," Covich said.

Top scams in January 2022

Investment scams were the most financially damaging type of scam in January, costing Australians $21 million, more than double the amount lost in the same month last year. This figure was consistent with 2021 where investment scams were the biggest single source of money lost throughout the year, costing Australians more than $177 million.

Dating and romance scams were the second highest in terms of money lost, amounting to $5.2 million. Aussies aged 65 and over accounted for the greatest losses to these scams at $2.3 million, with residents in Western Australia accounting for almost 40 per cent of total losses.

The amount lost to hacking scams increased significantly, more than doubling from December 2021. The amount lost to scams relating to threats to life or arrest increased by nearly 300 per cent month-on-month, with younger Aussies aged 18-24 suffering 35 per cent of all losses. Losses from betting and sports investment scams increased by nearly five times in January 2022 with women accounting for 75 per cent of these losses.

With the arrival of New Year shopping sales, losses to online shopping scams increased by 36 per cent from December 2021, while losses to jobs and employment scams rose by almost a quarter.

As for the number of reports, phishing scams were the most common in January 2022 with 6,751 reports, up more than 50 per cent from the previous month. Phishing scams were overwhelmingly carried out via text message, with 61 per cent of all reports delivered via this method.

Online shopping scams rose by 32 per cent from December 2021 to become the second-most reported scam in the month, with 37 per cent of all reports resulting in a loss.

Scams attempting to steal personal information including hacking and identify theft increased from December 2021 by 48 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively, with Aussies aged over 65 reporting more of these scams than any other age group. Ransomware and malware scams also rose significantly in January 2022, with reports increasing by 87 per cent compared to December 2021 and nearly three times higher than the same time a year ago.

[Related: Ransomware attack techniques now span the entire kill chain]

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