ACT News

Canberrans biggest victims of online scams per capita

Australians lost over $64.5 million on scams in 10 months last year with Canberrans the biggest victims if counted per capita, a new study has found.

Australians were also most likely to be swindled by false promises of love according to the new analysis of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission figures by a University of Canberra researcher.

Collectively we lost $20 million to romance scams in the same 10 month period from January to October 2014, with Victorian females aged 45 – 54 the biggest victims.

"Dating and romance scams are particularly convincing because they appeal to a person's romantic or compassionate site," Nigel Phair, Director of the UC's Centre for Internet Safety, said.

"Scammers set up fake profiles on dating and social networking sites and play on emotional triggers to get people to provide money, gifts or personal details."

While NSW and Victoria were strides ahead in terms of amount lost, Canberrans high rate of internet connectivity came back to bite them.

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"So if you look the ACT has the highest per capita scam rate and the NT is per capita the lowest. The ACT has a pretty good demographic with a lot of people online and we are a wealthy demographic," Mr Phair said.

Mr Phair, who authored the report, leafed through 80,000 self-reported cases of scams from ACCC data, dividing them into categories such as jobs and investments, buying, selling or donating, unexpected money and threats and extortion.

Queensland females aged 45-54 lost the most through threats and extortion scams, while Victorian males aged 45–54 lost the most in jobs and investment scams.

In terms of buying, selling and donating scams, Victorian males aged 25 – 34 suffered the highest reported losses.

Victorian females aged 55-64 lost the most in fraudulent unexpected prizes.

Mr Phair said the data called for a rethink of public information campaigns, saying that while they should be boosted, existing campaigns should be evaluated for their success.

In the meantime, Mr Phair said using spam blockers and not replying to spam, not opening attachments you aren't expecting, keeping your antivirus software updated and not giving out personal information over the phone were all good steps people should take.