Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox says seniors are being increasingly targeted by online and phone-based scammers. Photo Luke Mortimer / Northern Star
Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox says seniors are being increasingly targeted by online and phone-based scammers. Photo Luke Mortimer / Northern Star Luke Mortimer

Scammers fleece $229 million from people in 2015

SCAMMERS fleeced more than $229 million out of people from the Northern Rivers and across Australia in 2015 according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting Scams Report revealed that $85 million was reported lost to the ACCC’s Scamwatch last year, with 105,200 scam complaints.

In 2014, the ACCC received 91,600 scam complaints, with almost $82 million reported lost.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said this Fraud Week, the ACCC is urging the community to ‘Wise Up to Scams’ following a $3 million increase in scam losses reported to the ACCC and a 15% increase in complaints.

“In particular, we are encouraging older Australians to wise up and watch out for scams that target them so they don’t have their hard earned savings stolen,” she said.

Additionally, reports to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) revealed losses of more than $127 million in 2015, from 25,600 complaints.

“If you add Scamwatch and ACORN data with losses detected through scam disruption work, total scam losses exceeded $229 million last year,” Ms Rickard said.

“We know that in reality the actual total is higher still as many people never report that they’ve been scammed.

“The ACCC’s report reveals that investment scams and dating and romance scams resulted in the largest financial losses.

“There are many other scams which affect older members of the community but these two scams account for half of the money reported lost by over 55’s in 2015.”

Investment Scams

“Investment scams come in many guises including business ventures, superannuation schemes, managed funds and the sale or purchase of shares or property,” Ms Rickard said.

“Scammers dress up ‘opportunities’ with professional looking brochures and websites to mask their fraudulent operations and trick unsuspecting Australians.

“Before parting with your money, do your own research on the investment company and check they have an Australian Financial Services Licence on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.

“Don’t let anyone pressure you into making decisions about your money or investments.”

Dating and Romance scams

“Dating and romance scams take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media,” Ms Rickard said.

“Scammers spend months and even years establishing a relationship with their victims before making up a reason they need to ‘borrow’ money, such as medical emergencies or travel expenses.

“Never send money to someone you have met online – chances are you will be left with a broken heart and an empty bank account.

“Cease contact with anyone that asks for money, no matter how you feel about them.”

Top Tips

Dating and romance scams:

Run a Google image search to check the authenticity of any photos provided - scammers often use fake photos they’ve found online

Don’t send money or your personal details to someone you meet online - no matter how convincing their story is

Never share intimate photos of videos with someone you meet online - they could later use it to blackmail you

Investment scams:

Don’t let anyone pressure you into making decisions about your money or investments

Do your own research on investment opportunities and check if an investment is licensed via ASIC’s MoneySmart website

Do not send you money overseas for an investment offer that has come out of the blue – no matter how attractive or professional it appears.



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