Scam toll shows size of online grift
Australians were scammed out of $89 million last year, with the latest stats showing the digital con-jobs fleecing thousands of people every year.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says there has been a 10 per cent spike in scam reports last year and an alarming trend in phishing and identity theft.
Australians lost about $25 million to dating and romance scams, most of which are perpetrated through fake profiles on internet dating sites.
Dating and romance was one of the biggest money-earners for scammers, with an average loss of $21,000 per person. This form of skulduggery made up for just 3 per cent of total scams but over 28 per cent of the total money lost.
The most commonly complained-about grift comes in the form of extra bonuses, advanced fees and complex billing for credit card payments. These accounted for about 28,000 of the 91,000 complaints recorded.
Promises such as “Fill in this survey and you could win a $50 voucher” still catch plenty of victims, and open the door to potentially damning identity theft.
More than half of all scams are now perpetrated via mobile phone or text message, bringing combined total financial losses of $29 million.
ACCC deputy chairperson Delia Rickard has told the ABC that some elements of the scams can be particularly scary.
“Scammers are learning that by forming a personal relationship and really putting effort into knowing their victim and forming those trusting bonds, that this is the market for them,” she said.
“This is where they can get the biggest pay off. The majority we're aware of are under fake profiles in online dating sites.
“Some sites seem to be better than others and we're about to review all of this work and do another round of work with those sites so that they're better at identifying scammers, keeping them away from the sites and also giving warnings to their members” she said.
More information about recent scams is accessible in this handy infographic.