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Australians lost over $205 million to scams in the first four months of 2022, prompting a warning about investment opportunities that seem too good to be true.
The total losses to scams between 1 January and 1 May 2022 amount to a 166% increase compared to the same period last year, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch figures show.1
Of the total lost to scams, $158 million was lost to investment scams. This was an increase of 314% compared to the same period last year.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said the ACCC urged all Australians not to trust investment opportunities that seem too good to be true.
The ACCC has also issued a further warning for consumers to beware of cryptocurrency scams.
Of the money lost to investment scams, the majority involved crypto investments, with $113 million reported lost between 1 January and 1 May 2022. Cryptocurrency is the most common payment method for investment scams.
Scamwatch reported that imposter bond scams had increased in 2022, with $10.9 million reported lost.
Imposter bond scams usually impersonate real financial companies or banks and claim to offer government/Treasury bonds or fixed-term deposits.
While the figures showed scams conducted by phone had dropped, it coincided with a rise in scams by text message.
The Scamwatch figures showed scam contact methods by text message were up 54%, surpassing phone call as the most common contact mode. Phone scams had almost halved.
The Scamwatch figures showed people who were aged 55 to 64 reported the highest total losses from scams.
The losses in this age group were $32 million between 1 January and 1 May 2022.
More than 80% of losses reported by this age group was lost to investment scams ($26 million).
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s MoneySmart website2 says every scam is different, can be very difficult to spot, and anyone can be scammed.
Investment scam types can include:
In all cases, the money you ”invest” goes straight into the scammer's bank account and not towards any real investment.
Be suspicious of anyone who offers you easy money.
There are warning signs you may be being scammed. Look out for whether the person offering you an investment opportunity:
ASIC says if you spot any signs of a scam, hang up the phone or delete the email they have sent you.
If you manage to record any of the scammer's details, report them to ASIC or to Scamwatch.
Source: ASIC, Investment scams, Moneysmart.gov.au
If you think you are being targeted by a scam, here’s where to get help.
1. Media Release, 6 June 2022, Australians are losing more money to investment scams, at scamwatch.gov.au
2. ASIC, MoneySmart, Investment scams, accessed 6 June 2022, at moneysmart.gov.au
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