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Scams up $149 million in 2018

April 29, 2019

 

The Australian Commerce and Consumer Commission (ACCC) just released their Scamwatch report, which indicated that the total loss resulting from scams in 2018 comes to $489 million.

 

Investment scams top the list at approximately $39 million; dating and romance scams come next, at approximately $25 million, and false billing comes in at around $6 million. The three most-commonly-reported categories are crypto currency, binary options and forex trading.

 

The report found that men are more susceptible to investment scams than women, reporting a general $56.9 million in losses. However, the report also found that women are more susceptible to dating and romance scams than men, reporting $19.5 million in losses and $48.8 million in losses overall.

 

In total, the report showed a $149-million-increase in the cost of scams in 2018 than in 2017.

 

“Scammers are adapting old scams to new technology, seeking payment through unusual methods, and automating scam calls to increase their reach to potential victims,” ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard, indicated in an official statement earlier this week.

 

According to the ACCC, more than 378,000 scam reports were submitted—not only to Scamwatch, but also to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

 

Business susceptibility to scams

While investment scams had the greatest number of targeted individuals, false billing had the greatest impact on businesses.

 

According to the report:

 

Reports to Scamwatch indicated that $3.8 million was lost to business email compromise scams, but, when combined with losses reported to ACORN, Australian businesses are seen to have suffered losses of over $60 million to these scams.

 

The method on which the report focused was the ‘business email compromise scams’—a problem that is particularly prevalent in the real estate sector.

 

The GRC Professional reached out to Steve Cronan from SecureSoft, who commented that too many still fall prey to email scams.

 

“We depend so much on the emails we receive being genuine that we pay little attention to the veracity of their origin. Part of the reason why we respond (unknowingly) to scams stems from human factors, such as trust.

 

Another factor lies within the technology itself: ‘click-here’ links and embedded code make it impossible to tell if something is malicious or not,” Cronan said.  

 

He added, “It’s relatively easy to lift content from social media sites and source documents to craft something that look convincing but, in reality, has been carefully designed to rob the unsuspecting.”

 

Cronan went further to suggest some ‘counter measures’ businesses can apply to help prevent scams:

  • accepting ownership that every individual is responsible for cybersecurity (not just the IT department);

  • deploying strong email and virus filtering services with deep inspection techniques; and

  • installing next-generation malware detection and blocking software on every computing device to automate countermeasures.

 

 

“Experience has shown that getting the trust equation right by blending human factors with layered cybersecurity solutions returns dividends,” he explained.

 

Greater mitigation efforts

The ACCC would also like to see businesses and platforms doing more to mitigate the threat of scams.

 

“The ACCC has been working with banks, financial intermediaries and online classified sites to disrupt scams. But this year, we, along with the ACMA and ACSC, would also like to see social media platforms and telecommunications providers doing more to limit the ability of scammers to connect with victims,” said Rickard.

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