2017 was a year which saw over 200,000 scam reports with reported losses exceeding $340 million, an increase of $40 million over 2016 losses.
The 2017 ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) report on scam activity in Australia provides insight into the various scam types and techniques, and associated losses.
Top 5 scams by number of incidents reported to ACCC
|Scam Category||Reports||Reported Loss|
|Phishing||26 386||$810 224|
|Identity theft||15 703||$1 018 543|
|False billing||13 455||$2 796 980|
|Unexpected prize and lottery scams||12 726||$1 645 380|
|Other buying and selling scams||10 279||$3 584 426|
Top 5 scams by reported $ losses to ACCC
|Scam Category||Reported Loss||Reports|
|Investment scams||$31 327 476||1 997|
|Dating and romance||$20 530 578||3 763|
|Other business, employment and investment scams||$5 270 948||6 131|
|Upfront payment and advanced fee frauds||$4 148 089||8 588|
|Other buying and selling scams||$3 584 426||10 279|
Note: the above data is based on reports to the ACCC, and does not account for the total national reported incidents and losses. Scams were also reported to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and other government organisations such as the Australian Taxation Office.
ACCC confirms in its report that the total investment scam losses reported to both the ACCC and ACORN were over $64 million, and total dating and romance scam losses reported to both organisations were over $42 million. This may help to indicate the true scope of total national losses across the different scam categories.
Top scam types explained
Phishing refers to communications that trick people into providing their passwords or banking information. Typically performed through email, it can also be conducted through text messages or websites. ‘Vishing’ stands for voice phishing, and is a form of this scam where the perpetrator impersonates a legitimate service provider over the telephone to obtain the personal information.
Identity theft involves stealing someone’s personal information, using this information to gain benefits.
False billing scams involve sending invoices for goods/services that were not ordered. Examples include directory listings, domain name renewals or office supplies. Scammers take advantage of the fact that administrative staff may not know whether the invoice is legitimate.
Unexpected prize and lottery scams
Scammers trick people into paying a fee, to claim a prize from a competition they never entered.
Other buying and selling scams
This refers to various buying and selling scams which do not fit into the description of other scam categories.
Scammers offer fake investment opportunities with the promise of quick returns. They often use professional-looking websites or brochures to create the illusion of legitimacy.
Dating and romance scams
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, convincing them to provide money, gifts or personal details. Common platforms for conducting these scams include dating websites, apps or social media.
Other business, employment and investment scams
Scammers offer common business services, receiving payment but not performing the service. Examples include web development, search engine optimisation and business directory listings.
Upfront payment and advanced fee frauds
The victim is asked to send money upfront to later receive some sort of ‘reward’, such as a prize or discounted holiday.
Other key scam trends in 2017
Business email compromise scams
Scammers perform targeted phishing attacks on a business to hack the network. The business’ clients are then emailed informing them of a change in banking details, which go to the scammer’s account. Some scammers will impersonate the CEO, sending an internal email requesting a money transfer.
Threat-based impersonation scams
Scammers impersonate government departments, the police or reputable companies, claiming that the victim owes them money. Pressure and intimidation are used to convince the victim to give them money or personal information.
Cryptocurrencies in scams
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are a common payment method in scams, because they are difficult for authorities to trace. Investment scammers have also been taking advantage of the popularity of cryptocurrency investment.
iTunes cards in scams
The scammer persuades the victim to buy a large number of iTunes cards, and read out the serial numbers over the phone. The scammer can then sell these unused serial numbers online, often on the dark web. This tactic is often used in threat-based impersonation scams.
Nyman Gibson Miralis specialise in dealing with complex national and international cybercrime investigations. Our expertise includes dealing with malware, phishing and computer hacking offences, bootlegging and tripping, Bitcoin and crypto-currency fraud, as well as offences relating to identity theft, spreading computer viruses and DDoS attacks. If you require assistance, contact one of our expert criminal defence lawyers.