Despite widespread efforts to raise the profile of online scams, Australians have lost some $45 million to scammers and made nearly 46,000 complaints about the practice so far this year alone.
Ransomware and malware had caused over $136,800 in losses based on 291 reports lodged with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) last month alone, the organisation revealed today on the launch of its new Scamwatch site, dedicated to tracking the impact of various scams on the community.
Emails were used as the delivery method in 33.1 percent of cases, with the Internet used in 8 percent and phone calls in 45.1 percent.
Scams affected all ages more or less equally, with 3682 complaints from 25 to 34 year olds; 3739 from 55 to 64 year olds; and similar numbers in other age brackets.
February is the year's shortest month but had proved to be the most profitable for scammers, with Australians forking over $10.4m on 6996 reported scams. May was the busiest month, with 9127 scams reported to the ACCC.
"Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across Australia,” acting ACCC chair Delia Rickard said in a statement. “There's no one group of people who are more likely to become a victim of a scam and all of us may be vulnerable to a scam at some time."
The site provides detailed information about common scams, and will be updated regularly to monitor their effect on the Australian community. The site also allows those hit by scams to report them, and to find help if they've been scammed.
“Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to get your money or personal details,” Rickard said. “Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it.”
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