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Australians hit hard by online scams and fraud this year
Wed, 17th May 2023

The Government has boosted funding to combat online scams and fraud, as Australians have now lost almost AUD $200 million to scammers this year alone.

The most expensive month for Australians this year was April, recording AUD $52 million stolen by criminals. 

The latest findings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch also reveal the number of scams reported in April total 21,837, taking the number of scams reported so far in 2023 to almost 108,000.

By the end of April 2022, a lesser 72,252 scams had been reported, representing an almost 50% increase.

Investment-related scams continue to be causing the highest financial loss for Australians, as nearly $27 million was lost in April, totalling slightly over $115 million in 2023.

Phishing scams remain the most common type of scam in April (7,449 reports) and throughout 2023 (37,809 reports).

Phishing is where cyber criminals use deceptive emails or text messages to lure Australians to reveal financial information, login credentials, or other sensitive information.

Text message remains the most common delivery method for scams, yet by phone is where Australians are experiencing the highest financial loss, with nearly AUD $41 million stolen this year. 

Enlight of the ongoing threats Australians continue to encounter, the government has allocated AUD $86.5 million in the federal budget to tackle scams and online fraud over four years. 

This funding includes AUD $58 million to establish an anti-scam centre within the ACCC which will specialise in responding to new scams quickly.

AUD $17.6 million will go to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to assist with identifying websites promoting scams, and AUD$10.9 million will be used to develop an SMS sender ID register, making it harder for scammers to impersonate government and brand names in text messages.

Adrian Covich, Senior Director, Systems Engineering, Asia Pacific and Japan at Proofpoint, said: “Since last year, the number of scams reported has significantly increased, so as crucial as funding is, what will continue to be equally as important is educating Australians on scams; knowing what to look out for, how to avoid scams, and how to safeguard their personal data better."

Research indicated that those aged 55 and above continue to be most targeted and experience the highest financial loss, with 38,269 reports and over $92 million lost in 2023.

“Scammers often target older generations due to social isolation or lack of awareness,” says Covich.

“The older generation could have limited access to educational materials, so it’s important that Australians also speak to their elderly family members and remind them of threats that could be circulating and what to look out for."

Regarding phone scams, Covich adds: “Proofpoint researchers continue to observe numerous attacks carried out over the phone while blocking and detecting tens of thousands of email threats related to phone attacks every day.”

“These scams are primarily traditional call centre fraud, such as fake tech support to steal money, or the second leverages call centres to distribute malware that can be used for secondary compromises," says Covich.

The Senior Director at Proofpoint encourages Australians to keep informed of the latest scams circulating by utilising online resources and Proofpoint tips on how to avoid scams.