According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, scammers took a total of $70 million from unsuspecting Australians in 2009. Online shoppers have been hit particularly hard throughout the year.
“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 per cent increase compared with 2008,” said ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell.
“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.”
According to Kell, complaints about online shopping are on the rise.
“The ACCC recorded an increase of over 100 per cent in reports about online shopping scams during 2009, compared to 2008,” he said.
Reports of false billing scams and banking and online scams were also on the rise, up nearly 60 and 40 per cent respectively over the period.
Kell said that ‘mass market advance fee fraud’ category received a very large number of complaints.
“More than 54 per cent of the scam reports received by the ACCC concerned mass marketed advance fee fraud, making this the most complained about scam category in 2009,” he said.
This category includes scams such as, advance fee/up-front payment, dating and romance, lottery and sweepstakes, and unexpected prize scams.