Australians were scammed out of billions of dollars in 2022, a report released on Monday revealed.
The Targeting Scams report, published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that more than A$3.1 billion ($2 billion) were lost to scams in 2022 — a record high and an 80 per cent increase from 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.
Fake investment scams were by far the most damaging, accounting for almost half the total financial loss.
The average loss from victims who self-reported to the ACCC’s Scamwatch was almost A$20,000 — up by more than 50 per cent than in 2021.
People aged 65 and over fell victim to scams more frequently than any other age group and lost more money.
The report estimated that at least 30 per cent of people scammed out of money did not report the incident, meaning the true loss figure is likely much higher than the A$3.1 billion.
“Australians lost more money to scams than ever before in 2022, but the true cost of scams is much more than a dollar figure as they also cause emotional distress to victims, their families and businesses,” Catriona Lowe, ACCC deputy chair, said in a statement.
“As scammers become increasingly sophisticated in their tactics, it is clear a coordinated response across government, law enforcement, and the private sector is essential to combat scams more effectively.”
The commission urged Australia’s banks to explore options to better protect their customers from scams.
Lowe said that millions of people became more vulnerable to scams in 2022 after high-profile data breaches involving telecommunications and health insurance giants Optus and Medibank.
“Scammers are the most opportunistic of all criminals. Unfortunately, the more information a scammer has about you, the more convincing they can be,” she said.