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Australia lost a record $3.1bn to scams in 2022, and that’s just what was reported

Australians were scammed out of a historic sum exceeding $3.1 billion in 2022, according to a new report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

user icon Daniel Croft
Mon, 17 Apr 2023
Australia lost a record $3.1bn to scams in 2022, and that’s just what was reported
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This is a 55 per cent increase from 2021’s 2 billion.

“Australians lost more money to scams than ever before in 2022, but the true cost of scams is much more than a dollar figure as they also cause emotional distress to victims, their families and businesses,” said Catriona Lowe, deputy chair of the ACCC.

The number of large cyber attacks and the mass theft of data seen in Australia last year has had a direct impact, with Lowe saying that “the more information a scammer has about you, the more convincing they can be.

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“In the weeks after the data breaches, there were hundreds of reports to Scamwatch, including reports of scammers impersonating government departments and businesses to carry out identity theft and remote access scams,” she said.

The ACCC’s Targeting Scams report is based on over 500,000 cyber scam reports from Scamwatch, ReportCyber and financial institutions.

As alarming as the 3.1 billion figure is, the real number is likely to be much higher, with 30 per cent of scams remaining unreported.

Despite the increased losses, the number of scams dropped 16.5 per cent over 2021. However, the average losses increased dramatically by 54 per cent, from $12,742 to $19,654, demonstrating the increased complexity and sophistication

“As scammers become increasingly sophisticated in their tactics, it is clear a coordinated response across government, law enforcement and the private sector is essential to combat scams more effectively,” said Lowe.

“We have seen alarming new tactics emerge which make scams incredibly difficult to detect. This includes everything from impersonating official phone numbers, email addresses and websites of legitimate organisations to scam texts that appear in the same conversation thread as genuine messages.

“This means now more than ever, anyone can fall victim to a scam.”

Investment scams did the most damage in 2022, with over $377 million in losses, an increase of 112.9 per cent. Phishing scams were the most reported, with over 74 thousand reports and $24.6 million in losses.

As has been the case in the past, the over-65 demographic was the hardest hit by scams, losing $120.7 million (47.4 per cent more than last year) and reporting the highest number of scams, with 49,163.

However, with scams becoming more convincing, the highest increase in reported losses was seen by those 35 to 44, jumping up 90.7 per cent to $91.2 million.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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