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Scam statistics in Australia

Finder research reveals that one in ten Australians has fallen victim to scams while attempting to sell their second-hand goods online.

Ever wonder just how much money people lose to scams? Well, buckle up because last year's numbers from ScamWatch are in, and they're pretty jaw-dropping. According to their data, Australians lost $476 million to various scams. Yup, you heard that right. That's a whole lot of hard-earned cash going straight into the pockets of scammers. But fear not, we're here to shed some light on this alarming trend.

Key statistics

  • Out of the 301,778 reported cases in 2023, 9.7% resulted in financial loss
  • Investment scams top the report, amounting to $292 million in losses
  • Text message is the number one method of choice for scammers
  • 80% of Australians received at least one scam/fraudulent call, text or email in the last 12 months
  • Men and women aged 65 years and older are more likely to get scammed

The number of scams reported in 2023 in Australia

In 2023, Australia experienced a significant rise in the number of fraudulent activities, with scams posing significant threats to individuals, businesses and the economy as a whole.

Based on the data from ScamWatch, at the end of 2023 a total of 301,778 scams were reported, with 9.7% of them resulting in financial loss - a 26% increase on the 239,237 scams reported in 2022. From sophisticated online phishing schemes to traditional telephone scams, the tactics employed by scammers have continued to adapt and proliferate, exploiting vulnerabilities and preying on unsuspecting victims. As technology advances and scams become increasingly sophisticated, staying informed and implementing robust security measures are essential for safeguarding individuals and the integrity of the digital ecosystem in Australia.

New research from Finder reveals that one in ten Australians has fallen victim to scams while attempting to sell their second-hand goods online. This equates to around two million people who have encountered scams while listing various items – ranging from cars to couches – on popular online marketplaces such as Facebook, eBay, or Gumtree. The study also uncovered that slightly more men (11%) than women (10%) have experienced being scammed while selling used items on these online platforms.

Are scams becoming more common?

Based on the data from ScamWatch, 2023 did see a slight downturn in the number of scams and the amount lost when compared to 2022. The total number of scams reports and the total amount lost per year due to scams has been gradually on the rise since 2020. ScamWatch found that 2022 also had the highest percentage of reports to financial loss at 12.1%, compared to 2023 which saw a slight downturn at 9.7%. This could potentially be due to there being more awareness and education on scams and what to look out for.


What are the main types of scams in Australia?

The method used in scams and fraudulent activities has evolved over time. Understanding the main types of scams can help people recognise and avoid falling victim to fraudulent activities. Here are some of the prevalent scams that are being used:

  • Phishing Scams: ScamWatch data shows that text message is the primary delivery method for scams, accounting for 36%, with a total of 109,621 reports. Followed closely by email at 29%, and phone calls at 18%. Identifying phishing scams is crucial for safeguarding personal and financial information and protecting against identity theft.
  • Investment Scams: Investment scams lure victims with false promises of high returns or low-risk opportunities. These scams can take various forms, including Ponzi schemes, fake cryptocurrency investments, or fraudulent trading platforms. Investment scams exploit individuals' desire for financial gain, often resulting in significant financial losses. Investment scams are the most common ($292 million), followed by dating and romance scams with ($34 million).
  • Employment and Job Offer Scams: Employment and job offer scams target job seekers with false promises of employment opportunities. These scams often require payment of upfront fees or personal information for fake background checks or training materials. Employment scams exploit individuals' desire for employment and financial stability, leading to financial losses. The total amount lost from employment scams amounted to $24 million.
  • Remote Access Scams: Remote access scams involve scammers gaining access to victims' computers or devices. Once access is obtained, scammers may steal sensitive information, install malicious software or demand payment for unnecessary services. Remote access scams can lead to identity theft, financial fraud and privacy breaches. In 2023, the total amount lost from remote access scams amounted to $15 million.

Finder research shows that 80% of Australians received at least one scam/fraudulent call, text or email in the last 12 months.


Gender differences in the types of scams

Scammers often tailor their tactics to target individuals based on gender, exploiting societal norms, stereotypes and behavioural differences to maximise their chances of success. While both men and women can fall victim to various types of scams, research suggests that certain scams may disproportionately affect one gender over the other.

Data from ScamWatch reveals that men are primarily targeted by investment scams, with a rate of 63%, followed by pyramid schemes at 60% and dating and romance scams at 57%. Conversely, women tend to be more susceptible to psychic and clairvoyant scams, with a rate of 64%, followed by threats to life, arrest, or other at 62%, and online shopping scams at 58%.


How does age play a role in the amount lost due to scams?

Data from ScamWatch, shows that men and women aged 65 years and older are more likely to get scammed. For the year 2023, the total amount lost for individuals who were 65 years and older amounted to $121 million. Comparing these to ages between 25-34 years old who got scammed, the amount lost was just $45.5 million. Research shows that several factors contribute to this:

  • Technological Proficiency: Older adults may be less familiar with technology and digital platforms, making them more vulnerable to scams conducted online or through electronic means. Scammers exploit this lack of technological proficiency by using sophisticated tactics such as phishing emails, fake websites and tech support scams to deceive older individuals and obtain sensitive information or financial resources.
  • Trust and Vulnerability: Older adults may be more trusting and less skeptical of offers or requests for personal information, making them prime targets for scammers who rely on emotional manipulation to exploit their trust. Additionally, older adults may be more socially isolated or reliant on others for assistance, increasing their vulnerability to scams.
  • Financial Stability: Older adults may have accumulated savings and assets over their lifetime, making them attractive targets for scammers seeking to exploit their financial resources. Scammers may use investment scams, lottery fraud, or other schemes promising high returns to entice older adults into parting with their money, resulting in significant financial losses.

Last year's report from Real Insurance shows that the average amount of money taken from Australians in online, email or phone scams is $4,307. Less than half (45%) of those targeted were unable to recover any of their money.

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