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Email scams cost business $132 million in 2019: ACCC

Australians lost over $634 million to scams in 2019 according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report, with more than 353,000 reports to Scamwatch, government agencies and the big four banks. 

Business email compromise scams, where third parties intercept legitimate invoices and change the details to include fraudulent payment information, or impersonate a member of staff to fleece employees out of money, made up $132 million of this figure. 

Scamwatch received almost 6000 reports from businesses in 2019, and impacted small to medium businesses more so than large. The average loss to businesses was $11,000, but ranged up to $200,000 in some cases. 

“Scammers are increasingly using email scams to target businesses of all size,” ACCC deputy chair Mick Koegh said. 

“It is important for businesses and their staff to know that these scams are out there so they can learn how to avoid them [and] have strong processes in place for verifying and paying accounts.”

Business email scams were followed by investment scams at $126 million, and dating and romance scams at $83 million. 

“We know these numbers still vastly understate losses as around one third of people don’t report scam losses to anyone and in the past far fewer scam reports to other agencies have been captured,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said. 

“Some of these scams can last for months, or even years, [and] have taken advantage of new technologies [such as] social media apps and new payment methods.”

Source: ACCC website

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