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Losses from reported Australian hacking victims quadrupled in 2016: ACCC

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reported a four-fold increase in hacking scams, with AU$2.9 million lost to such activity in 2016, up from AU$700,000 in 2015.

According to Targeting scams: Report of the ACCC on scams activity 2016, businesses bore the brunt of these scams, with over half — AU$1.7 million — being attributed to businesses.

“While the digital economy presents many opportunities and efficiencies for businesses, it also presents significant risks,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard says in the report’s foreword.

“Scams targeting businesses are becoming increasingly sophisticated using modern technology to make fake emails, invoices and websites appear legitimate to even the astute business person.”

While the digital age is hitting businesses in Australia, the report [PDF] highlights that consumers are also being affected by scammers, with digitisation providing the opportunity for scammers to try new tricks.

Online scams — those executed via the internet, email, social networks, and mobile apps — outnumbered phone-based scams in 2016, with an increase of 130 percent over 2015.

Elsewhere in the report, losses to online scams accounted for 58 percent — AU$48.4 million — of total losses, while social media was a particularly busy platform used by scammers to lure victims, netting losses of AU$9.5 million in 2016 compared with AU$3.8 million in 2015.

Of the social media scams, the most prevalent were related to online dating and sextortion, a form of blackmail in which compromising images of the victim are used to extort money.

DATING SITE SCAMS 15 VIDEOS – SERIES 2

1…Panorama Tainted Love Secrets of the Dating Game BBC documentary 2013

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2…Beware Nigerian Online Dating Scams

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3…10 Most Horrifying Real Online Dating Scams

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4…Romance Scams ~ The Faces Behind The Masquerade

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5…Exposing How Women Manipulate Men

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6…CyberGuy on Dr. Phil: How To Avoid Catfish Dating Scams

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7…Insight: Video Scams – Love Bait

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8…Romance fraud – Mastermind Ghanaian Romance Scammer

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9…We Find Them: Mr. Right Turns Out Wrong

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10…Online Dating Secrets to Being More Desirable

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11…10 CRAZY Online Dating Experiences

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12…How to Tell Fake Profiles on Dating Sites

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13…Online Dating Site Scam

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14…International Dating Scams – Who Are You Really Talking To?

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15…5 Cruel Online Dating Scams

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Henry Sapiecha

Some dating scams online-Be aware.

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According to the ACCC, 2,620 Australians lost almost $23 million to romance scams last year.

Considering many people are reluctant to admit to being unlucky in love, this figure is likely much higher.

By using social media or online dating sites, would-be Romeos connect with their victims using either a fake profile, or by assuming the identity of someone trusted (think foreign aid workers, military, or overseas ex-pats.)

The scammer moves quickly, romantically suggesting the conversation is moved off the dating site, and onto another (less traceable) medium such as email or chat, and will spend months gaining your trust before requesting money.

This money is usually to handle a sudden family emergency, or recover from a unexpected run of financial bad luck.

To ensure you think with your head and not your heart:

  • Never provide your credit card details or transfer money, to someone you’ve met online.It’s almost impossible for the banks to step in and save the day (and your hip pocket) once you’ve wired money overseas, so be particularly suspicious if someone asks you to do so.Be mindful that money laundering is a criminal offence, so a broken heart won’t be your only woe if you accept and transfer money or packages for somebody else.
  • Run Google’s Reverse Image Search to match the photo you want verified with any similar pics on Google images. If the love of your life is using a stock photo, or has stolen someone’s profile pic, it will be matched with its original.
  • Be wary of the tell-tale signs – perhaps the person promises to Skype yet their webcam is always broken, or requests money to visit but can suddenly no longer travel.
  • Finally, if you think you have been scammed, report your experience to the website where the scammer first approached you and immediately cease contact. There are, after all, plenty more fish in the sea.

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Henry Sapiecha