Record amount lost to scammers in 2020

Scammers take advantage of pandemic to con Aussies

Research from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed Australians lost a record $851 million to scams in 2020.

The annual Targeting Scams report revealed scammers took advantage of the pandemic to cause financial harm to Australians. 

Investment scams accounted for the biggest losses, with $328 million, and made up more than a third of total losses. Romance scams were the next biggest category, costing Australians $131 million, while payment redirection scams resulted in $128 million of losses.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said losses were likely much higher than reported.

“Last year, scam victims reported the biggest losses we have seen, but worse, we expect the real losses will be even higher, as many people don’t report these scams,” Ms Rickard said.

“Unfortunately, scammers continue to become more sophisticated and last year used the COVID-19 pandemic to scam and take advantage of people from all walks of life during this crisis.”  

Ms Rickard said scammer took advantage of the physical isolation during the pandemic.

“We saw scammers claiming the government restrictions meant people could not see items in person before purchase,” she said.

“This was a common ruse in vehicle sale and puppy scams, which both had higher reports and losses.”

Find out how to protect yourself from scams.  

Most reported scams of 2020

  1. Phishing
  2. Threats to life, arrest or other
  3. Identity theft
  4. Online shopping scams
  5. False billing

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and not as specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice and does not take into account any person's particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situations and needs. The information referenced from the ACCC is © Commonwealth of Australia.