There's a reason spammers keep sending out emails pretending to be looking for love -- it's a massively profitable scam. How profitable? New figures suggest Australians are being sucked in to the tune of at least $28 million a year.
Couple picture from Shutterstock
The numbers are based on scams reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Last year, the commission received reports of 2497 Australians who had been targeted by scams, and 1032 who had lost money. 81 of those individuals had lost more than $100,000. The figures are likely to be a serious underestimate, as many people will be too embarrassed to report a scam in the first place.
Here's a more detailed breakdown of figures by state. Disturbingly, at least 40 per cent of scam attempts are successful.
|State||Amount Lost||Contacts||Losses||<$10K Lost||>$10k Lost||>$100K Lost||>$500K Lost||Rate|
|NSW||$8 911 557||656||263||162||101||23||5||40.1%|
|VIC||$6 811 791||496||228||134||94||22||0||46.0%|
|QLD||$5 780 010||544||234||147||87||16||2||43.0%|
|WA||$2 241 817||266||96||59||37||7||0||36.1%|
|ACT||$1 182 520||68||31||19||12||5||0||45.6%|
|Overseas||$1 624 309||219||91||71||20||5||0||41.6%|
|Not Supplied||$120 800||15||6||4||2||1||0||40.0%|
|Total||$27 904 562||2 497||1 032||659||373||81||7||41.3%|
So how can you avoid these scams? The ACCC offers four useful basic tips:
- Never send money to someone you've met online, or provide them with details of your bank accounts.
- Use Google Image Search to check photos of anyone you've met online -- scammers will often steal photos from other sources and reuse them.
- If you're using an online dating site, be suspicious if someone asks to move the conversation to private email.
- Don't share intimate photos -- they could be used to blackmail you.