This report explains key trends in scam activity and highlights the impact of scams on the community.

Snapshot of 2015

Overall contact levels and financial losses

  • In 2015, the ACCC continued to observe a high level of scams activity in Australia, with 105 201 scam-related contacts received from consumers and businesses, compared with 91 637 in 2014.
  • Scam losses reported to the ACCC totalled $84 941 766, representing an increase of just over $3 million from 2014 ($81 832 793). However, actual losses are likely to be considerably higher as many scams go unreported and the ACCC is only one of several agencies that receive scam reports.
  • The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) also receives scam reports and ACCC analysis of data reported to ACORN reveals reported losses of over $127 million.3
  • Various scam disruption programs, operated by the ACCC, South Australian Police and Western Australian Police in collaboration with the WA Department of Commerce, use nancial intelligence to proactively detect Australians sending funds to high risk jurisdictions. A combined estimate of losses to this unreported scam activity is $17.1 million.
  • Combining Scamwatch and ACORN data with losses detected through scam disruption work, total scam losses exceed $229 million.

    Most significant scams and losses

  • In 2015, losses reported to the ACCC for investment scams almost doubled to over $24 million with six people reporting individual losses of over $1 million. Additionally, computer prediction software and sports investment schemes, which are often marketed as investment opportunities, cost Australians another $5.5 million.
  • Losses reported to the ACCC for dating and romance scams reduced by 18.5 per cent in 2015 to almost $23 million—a decrease of just over $5 million in losses from that reported in 2014. These scams are
    the second most harmful in terms of nancial loss. The percentage of those reporting losses for dating and romance scams reduced from 41 per cent to 33 per cent suggesting that disruption initiatives and sustained messaging around the dangers of sending money to people that have only been met online has made some impact.
  • Advance fee fraud including inheritance scams, reclaim scams and Nigerian scams resulted in reported losses of over $14 million.
  • While losses relating to attempts to gain personal information only account for around 3 per cent of total reported losses, the deliberate misuse of personal information underpins several of the scam categories where signi cant nancial losses are reported. In terms of volume, phishing scams accounted for over
    15 000 reports and other attempts to gain personal information through hacking or identity theft, brings the total number of reports to almost 27 890. This accounts for approximately a quarter of all scam reports and is 9.3 per cent more than the 25 504 reports in 2014. 
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