Over the 2021 period Australian businesses lost $227 million in “payment redirection” scams, including business email compromise (BEC) and other digital fraud
According to the latest scam report, payment redirection is the most damaging type of scam for businesses.
The combined losses totalled $227 million in 2021 compared with $128 million lost due to business email compromises reported from the previous year.
The report combines data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, major banks, money remitters and other government agencies. It was based upon the analysis of over 560,000 reports.
The total reported losses to all organisations was almost $1.8B, but the ACCC estimates that actual losses were much higher at well over $2B since only one-third of victims report frauds.
Highest Category Losses 2021
- Investment scams accounted for 70% of all losses.
- Payment redirection scams (cost $227 million)
- Romance scams (cost $142 million)
Due to not having a specific reporting category for payment redirection scams, the ACCC obtained figures from reports of phishing, false billing, hacking and identity thief.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard says scam activity continues to increase, and last year a record number of Australians lost a record amount of money
“Scammers are the most opportunistic of all criminals: they pose as charities after a natural disaster, health departments during a pandemic, and love interests every day.”
“The true cost of scams is more than a dollar figure as they also cause serious emotional harm to individuals, families, and businesses,” Ms Rickard added.
Scamwatch received only 3624 reports of scams from businesses. $13.4 million was reported as lost. This is a 13% decrease in reports and 27% decrease in losses year-on-year. False billing scams cost businesses $6.7 million, with an average loss of $4200
According to Scamwatch reports, 2021 saw women report the highest number of scams, men lost more money than women and people with disabilities filed twice as many reports in 2020 than they did in 2020 with financial losses rising by 102 % to $19.6million.
Scamwatch also received record numbers of reports and losses from Australians who may have been suffering vulnerability or hardship.
Ms Rickard says the increasing number of reports by people experiencing vulnerability is a very worrying trend. Everyone from government, to banks, and digital platforms needs to do more to address this.
The commission also notes that the majority of reports on payment redirection (or BEC) are not sent to Scamwatch but to banks or ReportCyber, an online tool for reporting cybercrime.
The ACCC also says the Flubot SMS scam as being “the largest SMS scam in Australia” as “Scamwatch received almost 26,500 reports” between August and December 2021.
The Flubot scam was stopped earlier in the year by an international effort that involved the Australian Federal Police.