Australians lost more than $70 million through online scams last year, according to a Federal Government report.
The result is the “tip of the iceberg” according to the communications watchdog which deals with the victims.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received reports about more than 20,000 scams last year, up 16 per cent on 2008. Online shopping scams doubled over the same period, while false billing and banking scams rose by 60 and 40 per cent respectively.
Australia does not have mandatory reporting for consumer scams or corporate data theft, although the latter is set for consideration by the Federal Government at years' end.
ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell said more than half of the scams it receives are advance-fee fraud, or so-called 'Nigerian' scams, where victims are tricked into money advances.
In a separate report, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said Australians lost close to a whopping one billion dollars to all forms of fraud in 2007.
According to the National Personal Fraud Survey, which polled 453,100 people representing 5 per cent of the total population aged 15 years and over, some 806,000 people were victims of fraud in 2007.
It included bank fraud, identity theft, lotteries, pyramid schemes, phishing, and advance fee fraud.
Half a million were victims of identity fraud, and some 6 million had “received, viewed or read an unsolicited invitation, request or notification designed to obtain personal information, money or obtain a financial benefit by deceptive means”.
The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce is running the 2010 Fraud Week campaign as a joint operation between Australia and New Zealand. The taskforce includes 19 Australian state and federal government departments and agencies, and the New Zealand Commerce Commission and Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
It also includes Telstra, Microsoft, Myspace, Betfair, eBay, Symantec, and the Australian Telecommunications User Group.
Scams should be reported to the Scam watch website.