Sydney: A new report from Australia’s peak competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has shown that Australians have lost more than double to scams in the first four months of 2022 than the previous year.
The report, based on data from Scamwatch run under the ACCC and released on Monday, showed that Australians had reported losing over 205 million Australian dollars (about 147 million U.S. dollars) to scams between Jan. 1 and May 1, 2022, a 166 percent increase from the first four months of 2021.
Overwhelmingly, the scams came in the form of investment scams, making up more than 75 percent of all money lost.
“We are seeing more money lost to investment scams and so are urging all Australians not to trust investment opportunities that seem too good to be true,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
Additionally, the majority of the scams were conducted via text message and involved cryptocurrency or fake cryptocurrency investments. The ACCC urged people to be wary of sending cryptocurrencies to people they had only met online.
“Many consumers are unfamiliar with the complexities of cryptocurrency and this can make them more vulnerable to scams,” Rickard said.
In response to the stark increase of scams, the body is set to introduce new rules to block spam text messages later this year, and is investigating a number of cryptocurrency scam operations.
Earlier in the year, the ACCC instituted Federal Court proceedings against Facebook for publishing ads misusing Australian celebrities to peddle fraudulent crypto ads on the social media platform.