ACCC report reveals Aussies lost $851 million to scams in 2020
Based on the ACCC’s latest Targeting Scams report, $851 million was lost in just a year as scammers took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to con unsuspecting Australians.
Investment scams accounted for the biggest losses in 2020 with a total of $328,091,449. Dating and Romance scams came in second with Australians losing $131,976,234.
Payment redirection scams from last year resulted in $128,415,400 of losses, while $62,147,260 was lost to shopping scams.
“Unfortunately scammers continue to become more sophisticated and last year used the COVID-19 pandemic to scam and take advantage of people from all walks of life during this crisis,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
The ACCC report revealed Victoria to have the highest losses nationwide for the first time. $49 million in losses were reported by Victorians to Scamwatch, more than double the amount in 2019.
“We saw scammers claiming the government restrictions meant people could not see items in person before purchase. This was a common ruse in vehicle sale and puppy scams, which both had higher reports and losses,” Deputy Rickard said.
The increase in reports and losses for scams increased as people spent more time online during lockdowns.
Health and medical scams increased more than twentyfold in 2020 as compared to 2019. The health and medical scams left Australia with about $3.9 million in losses.
Losses to threat-based scams had also increased by 178 per cent, costing the Australian economy $11.8 million, and remote access scams rose to over 74 per cent with more than $8.4 million in losses.
Phishing activity also thrived during the pandemic. Over 44,000 phishing scams were reported, representing a 75 per cent increase. These phishing scams were done through government impersonation emails.
Deputy Rickard said the $851 million losses from last year were the biggest losses the ACCC has ever seen. However, she claimed that the real losses could be even higher than the reported $851 million as many people don’t report the scams to Scamwatch.