Earlier this week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its annual Targeting Scams report, which looks at how scammers are operating and where victims are being caught out.
Released ahead of Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce’s Fraud Week, the study reveals that the losses claimed in reports from ACCC’s Scamwatch, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and other programs came to a combined total of $299.8m.
Of this figure, the most amount of money was taken from investment scams, victims losing a total of $59m.
Dating and romance scams were found to take the second highest total from victims, the amount coming to $42m.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said: “Dating and romance scammers trick their victims into falling in love with them and then use their victim’s trust to deceitfully take their money.
“If someone you’ve met through social media but you’ve never met in person asks you for money, your alarm bells should be ringing.
“Don’t ever wire transfer or send money to someone you don’t know because you won’t see it again.”
The ACCC said it received more online scam reports compared to mobile-based scams, and revealed that online scams have gone up 130% from 31,308 in 2015 to 72,105 in 2016, due to a rise in reports of email and social network scams.
According to Scamwatch, 30% (1352 people in total) of dating and romance scam victims were actually contacted on social media sites, including Facebook.
The report reads: “The rise of the digital age has created opportunities for scammers to have greater global reach.
“Scamming victims by ‘requesting friendships’ on social networking sites or delivering malicious software has never been easier.
“The online environment gives scammers anonymity, the ability to phoenix, adopt different identities and even mask their physical location.
“The ongoing and rapid evolution of mobile-enabled technology and communication channels means that new scams will continue to emerge online, increasing the need for the public to learn how to avoid them.”
This year, the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce’s Fraud Week is focusing on how to “spot social media scams”.
The week aims to raise awareness about social media scams and educate people on the signs and things to be wary of when online.
To download the full report please click here.