Almost half a billion dollars were lost by Australians due to scams in 2018, according to an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report released on Monday.
The report stated that the ACCC-controlled Scamwatch and other government agencies received over 378,000 scam reports in 2018, with the total combined losses from scams exceeding AU$489 million — AU$149 million more than the year prior, up 41.7% year on year.
“These record losses are likely just the tip of the iceberg. We know that not everyone who suffers a loss to a scammer reports it to a government agency,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Of that total reported amount, AU$107 million was reported to Scamwatch.
In 2018, Scamwatch received 177,516 scam reports, which is a 10% increase from the 161,528 scams reported in 2017, and a 94% increase compared to 2013. The increases are a reflection of a growing scam problem as well as a better awareness by Australians of where to report scams, the ACCC said.
Hacking scams accounted for 8,625 of the scam reports received by Scamwatch in 2018, and over AU$3.1 million worth of reported losses. Compared to 2017, this was a 49.8% increase year on year in the amount of hacking scam reports received by Scamwatch.
Meanwhile, online shopping scams and ransomware accounted for 9,691 and 4,356 Scamwatch reports, respectively. These two categories resulted in AU$3.3 million and AU$151,000 of reported losses, respectively. According to Scamwatch, popular items Australians are trying to buy from scammers include shoes, Apple and Samsung phones, puppies, and cars.