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Dramatic increase in losses by elderly to fraud

Editorial Staff

A report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says that there has been an increase of 5% in the number of reports by the elderly of fraud committed against them. The total losses, however, increased by 22%. And they are not the only victims, the ACCC found.

Australians aged over 65 submitted over 26,400 reports to Scamwatch in 2018, with losses of over AUD21.4 million. This represents an increase of five per cent in reports but 22 per cent in losses.

“Scammers will scour dating sites and social media for older Australians who have recently divorced or lost a long term partner, taking advantage of those who are inexperienced with these sites and may be in a vulnerable emotional state,” ACCC Deputy Chairman Delia Rickard said.


Infographic courtesy of ACCC

Indigenous Australians also reported record losses in 2018. Scamwatch received 2434 scam reports from Indigenous people with losses exceeding AUD3 million – a 79 per cent increase compared to 2017. Investment scams were the most financially harmful with AUD1.1 million reported lost.

Other vulnerable groups also found themselves as victims: Scamwatch received over 7800 reports from people with disability or who identified themselves as having a chronic illness with over AUD8.7 million in losses. These Australians also reported higher losses per report to investment scams and dating and romance scams when compared with those that did not identify as having a disability or chronic illness.

The statistics are skewed by the limitations of self-reporting and by the presumption that victims are internet-aware enough to even find Scamwatch. Even so, they demonstrate a that the vulnerable remain as liable to be victims of conmen and other fraudsters today as they always have been.

Further reading (and audio ) is at https://www.accc.gov.au/public...