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Australian scam losses decline in 2023: govt report

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-04-29 10:09
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CANBERRA -- Australians lost billions of dollars to a record number of reported scams in 2023, government data has revealed.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday published its annual Targeting Scams report, revealing Australians reported over 601,000 scams in 2023, a new record and 18.5 percent increase from 2022.

Despite an increase in the number of reported scams, reported losses to scams fell from 3.15 billion Australian dollars (2.06 billion US dollars) in 2022 to 2.74 billion AUD (1.79 billion dollars) in 2023, a decline of 13 percent.

It marks the first time since 2016 that scam losses have fallen from the previous year.

"It is encouraging to see signs that our coordinated scam prevention, detection and disruption initiatives can stem the flow of funds to criminals and protect consumers," Catriona Lowe, deputy chair of the ACCC, said in a statement.

Australians aged 65 and over were the only age group that lost more money to scams in 2023 than in 2022.

Investment scams were the most prominent in 2023, accounting for 1.3 billion AUD (850.4 million dollars) in losses, 47 percent of the total, followed by remote access scams at 256 million AUD (167.4 million dollars) and romance scams at 201.1 million AUD (131.5 million dollars).

In July 2023, the federal government established the National Anti-Scam Centre to prevent scams and online fraud.

Lowe credited the center with making a positive impact but said there is much more work to do.

In a separate statement, Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones said that the government's plan to tackle scammers is working but that losses are still too high.

"We want Australia to be a world leader in combatting scammers and our mandatory codes will put us well ahead," he said.

Losses to job scams increased by 151.2 percent between 2022 and 2023 to 24.3 million AUD (15.8 million dollars), with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities disproportionately affected.

Losses to scams conducted via text message or phone calls were lower in 2023 than 2022 but the amount of money lost to those initiated over email and social media grew.

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