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Australians lost nearly $100 million to scams in March

The greatest single loss on record

According to the latest data from the ACCC’s Scamwatch statistics, Australians lost a staggering $95 million to all types of scams in March, the greatest monthly amount on Scamwatch’s record. 

Rising more than 150% from February, the amount lost in March also represents a significant increase of nearly 400% from the $20 million reported the same time last year. Despite an increase in the amount lost to scams, the number  of reports decreased by 10% in March, with 16,446 scams recorded suggesting scammers are becoming more effective  in their tactics with far less attempts.  

Investment scams were the single greatest source of money loss in March totalling $82 million – more than three  times higher than the previous monthly record of $27 million in February. Men were significantly more impacted by  investment scams, accounting for 92%.  

Additionally, phishing scams were the type of scams most recorded, which echoes Proofpoint’s latest report, ‘2022  State of the Phish’ where it was reported that email-based attacks dominated the Threat Landscape in Australia in  2021 – 90% or more of Australian survey respondents said their organisation faced spear phishing, BEC (business email  compromise) and email-based ransomware attacks in 2021. 

Key findings in March:  

▪ Australians aged 25 to 34 were the most impacted with losses totalling $65 million for this age group ▪ Queensland residents suffered the greatest losses at $67 million, followed by NSW at $11 million ▪ Mobile app scams were the greatest method of losing money, totalling $65 million or 68% of all losses ▪ Phone scams accounted for the greatest number of reports at 6,135 or 37%  

Phishing scams were the type of scam most recorded with 4,773 reports  

▪ Men were disproportionately affected accounting for 87% of all money lost in March  ▪ Australians have already lost $167 million to scams so far this year compared to $323 million lost throughout the whole of 2021  

Crispin Kerr, Vice President, ANZ at Proofpoint: The latest figures demonstrate just how damaging scams can be and  the impact they are continuing to have on Australians. As the data shows, investment scams continue to be the most  profitable and one of the most attractive scams due to the promise of quick cash and money wins. Younger Australians  especially are most susceptible to these scams which can range from cryptocurrency scams, celebrity endorsements  to unsolicited phone calls promising an investment opportunity like shares or stocks.  

“The rising popularity of cryptocurrency is likely contributing to the increase in investment scam losses and activity.  Cryptocurrency is another avenue for criminals to exploit Australians and take advantage of a less regulated  environment where digital currencies are more difficult to track. Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated,  even setting up fake cryptocurrency exchange platforms to carry out cryptojacking, tricking people into using their computers and mobile devices to mine cryptocurrency against the users’ will.  

We urge Australians to be extra vigilant especially when interacting with people they don’t know online and over the  phone. Scammers are becoming increasingly convincing and will go to great lengths to form relationships to appear  legitimate, convincing Australians to hand over personal and financial information. Always seek financial advice if you  are looking at making an investment and only do so through reputable channels. Knowing how to spot a scam is an important first defence and one of the best things people can do to protect themselves. Remember, if something looks  or sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.” 

Proofpoint’s tips to avoid being scammed: 

• Never share personal or financial information including bank account or credit card details with someone you  don’t know 

• Do not click through links or open attachments from unknown senders whether that’s over email, text, social  media or online 

• Look out for spelling and grammatical errors, these can suggest a message is a scam

• Only communicate with an organisation through official channels found on company websites, do not reply  directly to emails 

• Do not share passwords with people and ensure you change them regularly. Consider using a password  manager to help protect your personal information from being stolen 

• Be cautious about phone calls or emails that come out of the blue with investment offers or travel and other  prizes 

Secondary editor and executive officer at Tech Business News. Contracting as an IT support engineer for 20 years Matthew has a passion for sharing his knowledge of the technology industry. He's also an advocate for global cyber security matters.

Matthew Giannelis
Matthew Giannelis
Secondary editor and executive officer at Tech Business News. Contracting as an IT support engineer for 20 years Matthew has a passion for sharing his knowledge of the technology industry. He's also an advocate for global cyber security matters.

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