Don't trust anyone who is nice to you on the Internet. That's the latest message from the ACCC, who says that scammers ripped off online daters and other victims to the tune of $90 million last year.
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According to the ACCC, relationship scams "cause the most significant emotional and economic harm to victims" — with online baddies investing significant time and effort into convincing their unknowing targets of their legitimacy. 2013's overall loss of $89 million is slightly down on 2012's $93 million, so hopefully Australians are getting more cluey about the dangers of making friends with strangers.
The ACCC's Targeting Scams 2013 report tells us that dating and romance scams present the most danger online, raking in a massive $25 million despite only making up 3 per cent of cons reported to the ACCC. Online scams made up over half of the stats, costing Australians a full $42 million. Over 11,000 people fell victim to dating or online shopping cons, losing over $30 million in the course of the year.
There are some promising statistics from the ACCC's report. Phishing and identity theft and computer hacking for financial gain is almost completely ineffectual, with only 4.4 and 9 per cent of respondents losing any money from those scam types. Similarly, of the 173 reported fax scams, 170 reported zero loss, with only three people reporting any loss and only one extremely unlucky individual losing over $10,000.
Interestingly, psychics are still reliably ripping Aussies off; clairvoyant scams took almost half a million dollars in 2013 from 132 rubes, at an average loss of a staggering $3658 per person. That's topped only by fax scams, with an average toll of $8023 for the three unlucky victims. [ACCC]