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Australians lose $205 million to scams since the beginning of the year LeapRate

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According to data from Scamwatch, Australians have lost more than $205 million to scams in the first five moments of the year. There is an alarming 166% increase compared to the same period last year, the site noted.

The majority of losses have been attributed to investment scams which investors lost $158 million to with a 314% increase on yearly basis.

While the reported losses have increased, the number of reports of scams have fallen slightly. This indicates that people reported higher individual losses on average.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said:

We are seeing more money lost to investment scams and so are urging all Australians not to trust investment opportunities that seem too good to be true.

Most of the investment scam losses were related to crypto investments with reported loss of $113 million this year. Scamwatch noted that cryptocurrencies is the most commonly used method of payment investments scams.

Australia

Rickard added:

Australians should be very wary of anyone asking them to invest in or transfer money using cryptocurrency, especially if it’s someone you have only met online. Many consumers are unfamiliar with the complexities of cryptocurrency and this can make them more vulnerable to scams.

Between January and May 2022, there has also been a rise in imposter bond scams, with $10.9 million reported lost. These scams usually involve impersonation of real financial companies or banks and claim to offer government/Treasury bonds or fixed term deposits.

The data also reveals scam contact methods are changing. Text message scams were up 54% this year, surpassing phone call as the most common contact mode.

Rickard warned:

If you receive an unexpected text message or phone call from someone offering you an opportunity to invest, it is likely a scam and you should immediately hang up or delete the message.

Phone scams fell by half this year, which suggests that telecommunications industry’s Reducing Scams Call Code 2020 that blocks incoming calls from scammers is having an impact. Since the introduction of the code, telco providers have blocked morethan 549 million scam calls

Scamwatch noted that new rules to block scam text messages will be introduced this year.

The highest total losses were seen with people between the age of 55 and 64 with $32 million lost for the first five months of the year. More than 80% of losses ($26 million) in this age group was lost to investment scams.

Last month, the Australian regulator ASIC proposed extending the ban on binary options until October 2031 and last year it extended the reduced CFD leverages offered to retail clients for five years.

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