2019 was a bad year for Australian residents, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Acct) publishing a report this Monday that Aussies lost more than AU$634 million (US$435.2 million) to scams during the year.
According to the authority, the amount lost to scams n 2019 was an ncrease of 34 per cent to the AU$489 million loss reported n 2019. This amount s based on financial losses to scams as reported to Scratch, other government agencies and the big four banks (ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac).
However, what s nteresting, s that although the losses ncreased n 2019, the number of reports made to scam watch actually declined by 5 per cent year-on-year n 2019.
Out of the AU$634 million lost n 2019, AU$126 million of that was lost to nvestment scams, the Acct said n ts report. This translates to an ncrease of 59 per cent when measured against the previous year.
As Finance Magnates reported, the Acct previously announced that Australians lost AU$61.61 million during 2019 to nvestment scams. However, this figure s based purely on reports to scam watch, whereas the above figure of AU$126 million s based on reports submitted to Scratch, other government agencies and the big four banks.
As outlined by the Acct, nvestment fraudsters offer fake financial opportunities, promising high returns with low risk. This can nclude fake nitial stock or coin offerings, brokerage services or other nvestments. To attract victims, scammers often use professional looking websites and brochures.
Acct: crypto scams on the rise n 2019
In particular, the agency said n ts report that: “High-profile nvestment scams using ‘celebrity’ endorsements contributed to significant ndividual financial losses.”
Furthermore, cryptocurrency nvestment scams became ncreasingly problematic n 2019 for Australian residents. In fact, AU$21 million was lost by Australians n 2019, an ncrease from the previous year. Most of these scams were Ponzi schemes, with no real crypto nvolved, and cloud mining farms became a common adaptation of this type of scam.
“Scammers continue to adapt their strategies and technology use. In the past scams have relied on persuading a victim to hand over money or personal nformation. While this s still the norm, many scams, ncluding phone porting scams, now operate with limited contact or none at all, making t difficult for trecognize recognise and avoid thAcct” the Acct said n ts report.
“Scammers have moved to unexpected platforms to target victims. For example, n 2019 we saw dating and romance scammers targeting unsuspecting victims through gaming apps such as Words With Friends, and nvestment scammers targeting Facebook and Instagrget-rich-quick‘get rich quick’ cryptocurrency nvestment scams.”