Losses related to cryptocurrency investment scams made up over a quarter of the total scams reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) from the start of the year to the end of August.
In a response to a question on notice from the Senate Select Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre, the ACCC revealed it received 3,007 reports that totalled losses of AU$53.2 million. This represented 55% of all losses due to investment scams, and 48% of all investment scam reports.
Broken down by state, New South Wales had 860 reports for AU$20.6 million in losses, Victoria had 563 reports for AU$12.6 million in losses, Queenslanders lost AU$8.2 million and made 485 reports, while Western Australia made 268 reports on AU$3.8 million in losses.
By age, those in the 55-64 bracket lost over AU$12.6 million and made 365 reports, those over 65 accounted for AU$10.7 million in losses and filed 356 reports, while those aged 44-54 made 352 reports and lost AU$8.7 million. As age decreased, so did the losses, with those aged 35-44 making 627 reports for losses of AU$7.6 million. 25-34-year olds lost AU$7 million and made 570 reports.
Beyond cryptoscams, those labelled "traditional scams" -- such as pre-IPO, share, and foreign exchange scams -- accounted for AU$21 million in losses from 411 reports, the other category had 2,590 reports for AU$11.7 million in losses, and ponzi schemes had 110 reports for only AU$239,000 lost. The grand total lost to all investment scams to August 31 was AU$96.6 million.
Broken down by state, New South Wales had 1,864 reports for AU$33 million in losses, Victoria had 1,316 reports for just shy of AU$23 million in losses, Queenslanders lost AU$20 million and made 1,060 reports, with Western Australia making 580 reports on AU$7.7 million in losses.
On Monday, the ACCC said from the start of 2021 to September 19, Australian losses to all scams had passed AU$175 million.
"While the proportion of reports involving a financial loss has dropped this year, the people who do lose money are losing bigger amounts. The average loss so far this year is about AU$11,000 compared to AU$7,000 for the same period in 2020," ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
The ACCC said it had seen a 261% increase in phishing scams, 144% involving remote access, and 234% in identity theft.
The consumer watchdog said it had been passing scammer phone numbers onto Australian carriers, and working with banks to "raise awareness with their customers" who could have been hit by Android malware known as Flubot.