Dating scams are now the number one scam in Australia with $25.2 million lost to romantic scammers in 2013 according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
This was in contrast to 2012 where advance fee/up-front payment scams were the most commonly reported, making up 32 per cent of recorded scams.
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According to ACCC chair Delia Rickard, the rise of dating scams means that scammers are “reaping the rewards” of a personalised approach.
“Financial losses form just one part of the picture of the impact of scams activity in Australia, with the non-financial losses borne by victims unquantifiable,” she said in a statement.
“Scams have the capacity to devastate the lives of victims, who report suffering adverse effects to their mental health, work capacity and close personal relationships.”
Rickard added that victims often “suffer in silence” because of the social stigma that is attached to falling victim to a scam. However, she said that the ACCC is working hard to change this attitude through education and awareness-raising.
During 2013, 92,000 scam-related contacts were received by the ACCC, an increase of 10 per cent from 2012. Reported financial losses from scams decreased from $93.4 million in 2012 to $90 million.
The three most commonly reported scams were advance-fee fraud, phishing and identity theft, and computer hacking scams.
According to Rickard, there was a 73 per cent increase in phishing and identity theft scams to 15,264 incidences.
“Actual financial losses remained low, suggesting that scammers are instead seeking personal information for later gain,” she said.
Card fraud rises to $290 million
Card/payments fraud reached $290.9 million in 2013 according to a new report from the Australian Payments and Clearing Association (APCA).
This was an increase from the APCA’s 2012 report which showed that Australian credit and debit card losses totalled $262 million.
According to the report, the rise in fraud during 2013 was mainly due to an increase in card-not-present fraud from $183.1 million to $219.7 million.
“This needs to be seen in the context of the strong growth in online spending by Australians. In the four years to December 2013, online purchases increased by 140 per cent,” said APCA CEO Chris Hamilton in a statement.
“This compares to a 67 per cent increase in card-not-present fraud over that same [four year] period.”
Counterfeit/card skimming fraud was at $37.2 million, down from a peak of $66 million in 2011.
According to Hamilton, the use of chip technology is “continuing to prove effective” in countering card skimming.
Meanwhile, lost and stolen card fraud increased from $27 million to $34 million.
“This suggests that as enhanced fraud detection tools and chip technology make it more difficult for criminals, they are reverting to simple theft to obtain cards,” he said.
According to Hamilton, the biggest challenge for APCA is to get every online merchant to protect customer card information by complying with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) DSS standards.
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick
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