Local organisations are being targeted by sophisticated ‘business email compromise scams’ with reports of losses to Scamwatch and other agencies exceeding $60 million last year.
The ACCC’s Targeting Scams 2018 report shows scammers hacked into a business’ email system and impersonated key personnel in emails. They then requested changes to regular bank account details, so money could be transferred into the scammer’s account.
Many businesses were caught off guard because the emails appear genuine, the ACCC said.
Investment scams were also financially devastating scams at $86 million, an increase of more than 34 per cent compared with 2017, reported the ACCC.
In total Australians lost almost half a billion dollars to scammers in 2018, according to the ACCC’s latest figures.
In 2018, more than 378,000 scam reports were submitted to the ACCC’s Scamwatch; the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN); and other federal and state-based government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The total combined losses reported to Scamwatch and other government agencies exceeded $489 million – $149 million more than 2017.
“Scammers are using pressure and fear tactics combined with technology to trick people into parting with their money,” ACCC Deputy ChairDelia Rickard said.
“These extraordinary losses show that scammers are causing significant financial and emotional harm to many Australians.”
The ACCC believes scammers were adapting old scams to new technology, seeking payment through unusual methods and automating scam calls to increase their reach to potential victims.
Also in late 2018, many thousands of Australian households were hit with automated phone calls from scammers impersonating the ATO threatening arrest for unpaid taxes.
The ATO scam increased more than 900 per cent, indicating scammers were engaged in a concentrated campaign to scam as many Australians as possible.