Australians have lost more to investment scams so far in 2019 than they did in the whole of 2018. That’s according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch.
In particular, as of September 2019, AU$48.85 million ($33.0 million) has been lost to fraudsters who are operating investment scams. In the same time period, the consumer protection authority has received 4,331 reports, with the number of reports involving financial loss at 41.2 percent.
This is higher than the AU$41.97 million that was lost across the whole of 2018 by 16.4 percent. During last year, the ACCC received 4,864 complaints, with 27.6 percent of them involving financial loss.
These figures are in line with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which earlier this year revealed that Brits lost approximately £27 million ($34.4 million) to foreign exchange and cryptocurrency-related scams in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
According to the British regulator, authorities received 1,834 scam reports last year. That was almost a four-fold increase on the prior twelve-month period.
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The chair of the FCA, Charles Randell, has also recently come out and said that financial crime, especially fraud against individuals, has reached epidemic proportions, as Finance Magnates reported.
Breaking down ACCC stats
Breaking down 2019’s figure of AU$48.85 million, so far this year, Aussies lost the most during the month of July, by a significant margin. Specifically, AU$12.78 million was lost in July, and 721 reports were made to the commission.
The next worst month in 2019 was in August. During the month, AU$8.19 million was lost. In the same period, consumers made 504 reports. This is 43.1 percent less than the number of reports made in the previous month.
The most common tactic fraudsters used to contact victims was via phone. This method saw scammers rake in AU$14.50 million, and consumers phoned in 1,344 reports. The next most-used method, based on the ACCC’s data, was the internet, followed by social networking.
The age group to lose the most amount of money was between 35-44 years of age. Until September, this age group has lost AU$11.28 million. However, the group before – 25-34 years of age, lodged the most reports out of all age groups, at 678.
In terms of gender, males lost the most to investment scams, taking up 74 percent. According to the statistics, male consumers lost more than AU$36.16 million, whereas females lost AU$12.18 million.