Australians lost record $2bn to scams in 2021

Australians lost a record amount of over $2bn to scams in 2021, according to the annual report from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Its report compiles data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, major banks and money remitters and other government agencies and is based on analysis of over 560,000 reports.

The document states that all reported losses to all organisations totalled almost $1.8bn, but as one-third of victims do not report scams.

Investment scams were the highest loss category ($701m) in 2021, followed by payment redirection scams ($227m) and romance scams ($142m).

Based on reports to Scamwatch in 2021, women reported the most scams, but men lost more money, with men’s losses to investment scams being double women’s losses. In culturally and linguistically diverse communities, women had slightly higher losses than men.

As for age, people aged 65 and over reported the highest losses and reported losses steadily increased with age.

Another finding of the report was that people with disability made twice as many reports compared to 2020, and their financial losses increased by 102 per cent to $19.6m. Additionally, the number of reports by Indigenous Australians increased by 43 per cent between 2020 and 2021, and reported losses increased by 142%.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said, “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.”

Read the full study here.

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