Scam reports skyrocket as conversational ‘smishing’ robs Australians of millions

Scam reports skyrocket as conversational ‘smishing’ robs Australians of millions

New research reveals conversational text scams were the fastest growing and most prevalent mobile threat in Australia over the past year.

2023 is set to be the worst year on record for scams, with new data revealing 86,146 scams have been reported this year, an increase of more than 54% compared to the same time last year (55,902 reported).

Despite this, the first quarter (Q1) findings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch shows early indications of financial loss to scams is down (AUS $166 million in Q1 2022 versus AUS $142 million in Q1 2023).

The monthly average lost to scams, which across the whole of 2022 was AUS $47.38 million, remains steady despite the number of scams dramatically increasing, with the monthly average lost so far in 2023 on par at AUS $47.42 million.

Most scams this year are investment related, causing over 62% of all losses in the first quarter 2023 at AUS $88.46 million. This was followed by dating and romance scams, jobs and employment scams and phishing, which cost Australians over AUS $9.31 million, AUS$9.16 million and AUS $9.12 million respectively. Text messages are the most frequently reported scam delivery method reported this year with 39,158 reports, mirroring 2022.

Proofpoint, a leading cybersecurity and compliance company, has released corresponding research revealing conversational text scams were the fastest growing and most prevalent mobile threat of the past year globally, increasing 1200% and overtaking the likes of package delivery scams.

The insights come after Australians lost over AUS $568 million to scams in 2022 – almost 50% more than the $323 million lost in 2021.

This, as the Australian Government works to develop its 2023-2030 Australian Cybersecurity Strategy, which outlines a vision of being the world’s most cyber secure country by 2030.

Other key findings include:

• Over 65s continue to be at the forefront of targeted scams, with the age group suffering over AUS $34.97 million in total losses so far this year

• While men have accounted for 58.5% (AUS $83.23 million) of losses compared to 40.3% (AUS $57.3 million) for women, it appears women are more likely to report scams. Women account for 51.4% of scam reports, compared to 46.4% of these reports coming from men.

Adrian Covich, Senior Director, Systems Engineering, Asia Pacific and Japan, Proofpoint said: 2022 was an unprecedented time for cyberattacks in Australia. The record-breaking year saw some of the highest total losses in history, affecting both small and large local businesses and everyday Australians in devastating ways. From recruitment and investment scams to the popular ‘hi mum’ SMS tactic, scammers became savvier in order to target larger numbers of people at very little cost.

“The slight bright side here is that total financial loss is down.

However, the fact remains that attacks have picked up in pace.

“The high-profile cyberattacks that emerged in 2022 significantly increased the demand for cybersecurity education at both a personal and professional level across the country,” said Covich.

Click below to share this article

Browse our latest issue

Intelligent CISO

View Magazine Archive