Investment fraud continues to hit Australians, as more than $3m lost in a week

Maria Nikolova

Australians reported having lost more than $3 million in the week to January 28, 2018, as a result of investment scams, according to the latest data from Scamwatch.

Shortly after Scamwatch, the body operated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), reported that investment schemes dominated the landscape of the most widespread scams in Australia in December 2017, it appears that this type of fraudulent activities flourished in January 2018.

The latest numbers, released by Scamwatch earlier today, show that Australians report having lost more than $3 million in the week to January 28, 2018, as a result of investment scams. This is a heavy hit on Australian consumers given that the losses for the whole month of December due to such fraud amounted to $2.9 million.

Image credit: Scamwatch.

The overall trend is that of a rise of investment scams. Australians reported losses of more than $31.15 million due to investment scams in 2017, with the number up 32% from the losses of $23.63 million reported by Australians hit by investment fraud in 2016.

Overall, during 2017, Australians filed 1,978 reports concerning investment fraud with ACCC. November was a record-setting month with regard to amount lost as a result of such fraudulent activities – $4.32 million, 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.

The profile of investment scams is changing, with new types of scams emerging such as ones related to cryptocurrencies. Scamwatch has recently alerted the public of a growing 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.

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