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Australians were scammed out of around AUS$82 million (US$66 million) during 2014, with online dating fraud accounting for the biggest losses, reports Phys.org.
The figures courtesy of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) show that more than 91,000 scam complaints were received last year, with one in ten victims tricked out of more than AUS$10,000 (US$8,000). For 14 victims, the losses were greater than AUS$500,000 (US$400,000).
The report notes that romance-based scams accounted for more than a third of financial fraud, as AUS$28 million (US$22 million) was stolen from victims who sent money to false admirers. This was the top category in the ACCC’s report, followed by get-rich-quick investment schemes, says NDTV Gadgets.
“There is a common misconception that scam victims are only the greedy and gullible,” said ACCC deputy chairman Delia Rickard.
“Anyone can fall victim to a scam and we are all vulnerable at some time in our lives to those unscrupulous individuals willing to take advantage of our better nature or simple mistakes.”
The ACCC report also claims that the actual amount stolen is likely to be higher than the sum of complaints, with some victims either unaware of the crimes or too embarrassed to report them. Surprisingly, most of the frauds that were reported occurred by phone, via calls or text message (53%), while 38% were online. Rickard warns, though, that data for those phone scams may have been captured online.
“Increasingly, scammers are using personal information gleaned from social media profiles to target victims for a fraudulent relationship or investment,” she said.
“Scammers are constantly ‘phishing’ for your personal details such as your name, address and birthdate and this will only increase too as your personal data becomes more valuable to them.”
Internet users looking for love are advised to secure their social media profiles, as well as protecting themselves against online dating scams by following the advice in our video below.
Author Kyle Ellison, ESET