According to data analyzed by the Atlas VPN research team, Australians have reported 99,321 scams (scam events) since the beginning of the year, resulting in $89.6 million in losses. Notably, $3.3 million were lost to coronavirus-related frauds.
There has been a slight drop in the number of reported scams from January 1st to July 31st this year compared to the year before. However, the financial damages caused by fraudulent behavior have risen by more than $10 million or over 13%.
In fact, scam incurred losses have been steadily growing since 2017. If we were to compare the amount of money lost to scams within the first seven months of 2017 to the equivalent period in 2020, the amount has grown by 93%.
Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the most common scams targeting Australians:
“Even though the number of scams is not growing, what is concerning is the fact that scams are becoming more sophisticated and are able to lure out more money per every successful attempt.”
April was the most successful month for scammers in 2020. In total, there were 17,701 fraud cases recorded that caused damages of close to $16.4 million. July, however, saw the most scam complaints. There were 18,579 scam events in July alone, which together robbed victims of nearly $12.3 million.
Most fraud complaints have come from people aged 65 and over. This group has reported 14,286 (14.4%) scam cases and lost close to $30 (23.4%) million to fraud.
Investment scams cost victims the most
Investment fraud remains the most lucrative. Criminals have come up with a wide range of fake money-making opportunities that they propose to potential victims to get hold of their funds.
A total of 3,795 investment scams have been reported this year, which is a relatively small number compared to other types of fraud. Nevertheless, 36.5% of investment scams resulted in financial losses costing Australians more than $34 million.
Compared to 2019 the result seems to suggest, stuck at home, Australians have been much more vigilant in 2020. According to the figures provided by the ACCC, Australians lost over $634 million to scams in 2019. There were more than 353,000 combined reports to Scamwatch, other government agencies and the big four banks last year.