Explains key trends in scam activity and highlights the impact of scams on the community.
Snapshot of 2014
Overall contacts levels and financial losses
- In 2014 the ACCC continued to observe a high level of scams activity in Australia, with 91 637 scam- related contacts received from consumers and businesses compared with 91 927 in 2013.
- Scam losses reported to the ACCC totalled $81 832 793, continuing a slight downward trend with an 8 per cent decrease from 2013 ($89 136 975). This is a continuation of a reversal in the trend from 2010 through to 2012 where large annual increases in reported losses were observed. However, actual losses are likely to be higher as many scams go unreported and the ACCC is only one of several agencies that receive scam reports
Most significant scams
- Similar to previous years, the majority of people contacting the ACCC about scam-related activities in 2014 (almost 88 per cent) reported no financial loss. Over one third of people who lost money reported losing between $100 and $499, which indicates scammers continue to prefer ‘high volume low value scams’—that is, scams that are delivered to large numbers of recipients but cause smaller amounts of loss per victim
- At the same time, the ACCC continued to receive reports of individuals suffering significant losses. Over 10 per cent of scam contacts reported losing above $10 000 and there were 14 instances where losses exceeded $500 000. There were no losses above $1 million reported in 2014
- The most damaging scams in terms of monetary loss continue to be those scams previously categorised as advance fee fraud and dating and romance scams which often evolve into advance fee fraud.
- In 2014 dating and romance scams remained in the number one position in terms of financial losses, with $27 904 562 reported lost which accounts for 34 per cent of all reported losses. For the fourth consecutive year the ACCC has observed a decrease in the conversion rate of people who responded to an approach by a scam admirer and subsequently lost money—from 48 per cent in 2011 to 41 per cent in 2014. However, financial losses continue to remain substantially disproportionate to contacts, with dating and romance scams making up only 3 per cent of all scam-related contacts in 2014.