Australians lose $65m through investment scams in 2020

UAE authority begins campaigns to warn consumers about online investment fraud

Person with man bun has a planty bills to pay.
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Australians lost more than A$175 million ($133m) through scams last year, data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission showed.

Investment scams were responsible for the most losses, at A$65.8m, or 38 per cent of the total.

Dating scams were the second-most common way of losing money, with the commission stating that $38.9m was lost through this method last year.

False billing scams committed on businesses netted almost A$18.5m last year, with payment redirection scams totting up A$14m. However, these are proliferating and average losses so far this year are running five times higher than they were at the same stage last year.

Payment redirection scams occur when a fraudster impersonates a business or its employees and asks for money that is usually owed to a business to be redirected to a fraudulent account.

“Scammers tend to target new or junior employees, or even volunteers, as they are less likely to be familiar with their employer’s finance processes or the types of requests to expect from their supervisors,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

"We recommend organisations ensure their staff are well trained in the company's payment processes and remain aware of payment redirection scams."

In total, almost A$43 million worth of scams were committed in Australia in the first two months of this year. Investment scams were once again the most popular, making up about A$18.2m, or 42 per cent of the total.

The UAE's Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority launched its own campaign highlighting the danger of investment scams on Tuesday to raise awareness of "fraudulent practices of online investment companies".

Its campaign was launched after receiving inquiries through social media and other channels, the authority said. Its aim is to distinguish between licensed, legitimate methods for investing and unlicensed activities.

“It has been noticed recently that online investment has increased ... we have coordinated with the Securities and Commodities Authority to highlight the methods of proper investment over the internet, and how to avoid falling victim of scammers and fraudsters in this vast field,” Mohammad Al Zarooni, chief executive of the authority's policies and programmes department, said.