Scammers fleeced Australian businesses out of nearly $340 million in 2017
Phishing, identity theft and false billing scams accounted for a total of more than 55,000 scams.
However, not all of these scams had devastating financial consequences. In fact, the three scams reported most often were also among those that were the least damaging. Phishing, identity theft and false billing scams accounted for a total of more than 55,000 scams reported to the ACCC, but they generated less than $4 million for the scammers. Part of the reason is that only 0.8%, 1.8% and 5.5% of these scams were successful, respectively.
On the other end of the spectrum, investment scams hit businesses' pocketbooks much harder. Businesses reported only around 2,000 investment scams to the ACCC. However, 29% of them were successful, allowing scammers to walk away with $31 million. This represents a massive 33% increase over similar losses in 2016.
An investment scam involves someone offering bogus financial opportunities that promise quick returns. Scammers can be quite sophisticated at carrying out such scams, often developing legitimate-looking marketing materials to lure victims in.
“Scammers don’t discriminate, and businesses have what scammers want: money. They’ll use a variety of cons to swindle busy workers and it can be very devastating to a business’s bottom line,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said in a statement.
Businesses who want to protect themselves against scams can visit the ACCC's Scamwatch website, where they can learn how to recognize common scams currently being perpetrated on unsuspecting businesses. They can also subscribe to Scamwatch alerts to receive up-to-date scam warnings.
They should also consider business insurance that would protect them should they ever be scammed.
“It’s vital Australian businesses are aware that scammers are actively out there targeting them and to ensure they have strong processes in place to avoid becoming victims,” Dr Schaper said.