Australians lose $31.2m to investment scams in 2017 – Scamwatch data

Maria Nikolova

The amount lost to investment fraud staged a rise of nearly 32% year on year, according to the latest numbers from Scamwatch.

Australians reported losses of more than $31.15 million due to investment scams in 2017, according to the latest data from Scamwatch, the body run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The losses mark a whooping 32% rise from the losses of $23.63 million reported by Australians hit by investment fraud in 2016.

Investment schemes dominated the landscape of most widespread scams in Australia in December 2017, at least in terms of losses reported – $2.9 million.

Source: Scamwatch.

Overall, during 2017, Australians submitted 1,978 reports concerning investment fraud. November was a record-setting month with respect to amount lost as a result of such fraudulent activities – $4,321,946, followed by August ($3.95 million).

In terms of age, elderly people are the ones who lost most money. Australians between 55 and 64 years of age lost the biggest amount of money due to investment scams last year, followed by those over 65 years of age.

Scamwatch has recently alerted the public of a rising number of Bitcoin-related scams. The organization received a total of 77 reports about Bitcoin-related scams in the week to October 29, 2017, with the number up 126% from the preceding week. A typical example of such a scam is an SMS saying that a person has a certain number of Bitcoins in his/her account and then asking the potential victim to check (log into) the account.

The numbers from Scamwatch were released shortly after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) also voiced its concerns about the increased number of fraudulent schemes involving cryptocurrencies. ACMA warned the public of scams targeting people who use crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. In particular, the authority noted a number of fake Blockchain URLs and a Bitcoin survey which are indeed scams that aim to collect personal information.

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