Our cousins across the ditch have been fooled and bamboozled
by online scammers quite a lot recently, according to a survey done by
Australia’s consumer watchdog.
During 2009, losses reported to the Australian Competition
and Consumer Commission through scams totalled almost $70 million. They include
advance fee/up-front payment (Nigerian style) scams, dating and romance,
lottery and sweepstakes, and unexpected prize scams.
"Scams continue to make up a large proportion of total
complaints that the ACCC receives and more than 20,000 scam reports were made
to the ACCC in 2009 – a 16% increase compared with 2008," deputy chair
Peter Kell said. "Realistically, this figure is likely to be the tip of
the iceberg – given people can be embarrassed about reporting that they have
fallen victim to scams and lost money in the process."
The ACCC has seen very significant increases in reporting of
certain types of scams. "The ACCC recorded an increase of over 100% in
reports about online shopping scams during 2009, compared to 2008," Kell
said. Last year also saw large increases in the reporting of false billing
scams and banking and online scams – up nearly 60 and 40% respectively in 2009.
"More than 54% of the scam reports received by the ACCC
concerned mass marketed advance fee fraud, making this the most complained about
scam category in 2009," Kell said.
Targeting scams – Report of the ACCC on scam activity
2009 notes that the dominance of online
scams. "Nearly 70% of consumers that contacted the ACCC about scams during
2009 said they were contacted by scammers via the Internet," Kell said. According
to the new ACCC report, scammers continue to target individuals regardless of
age, gender, education or income level.