Net scams cost Australians $70M

The Australian Competition and Consumer has blamed Internet scams for defrauding Australians of almost $70 million in 2009.

ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell said, "Scams continue to make up a large proportion of total complaints that the ACCC receives and more than 20,000 scam reports were made to the ACCC in 2009 - a 16 per cent increase compared with 2008.

"Realistically, this figure is likely to be the tip of the iceberg – given people can be embarrassed about reporting that they have fallen victim to scams and lost money in the process."

The ACCC highlight online and false billing scams as major problem areas.

"More than 54 per cent of the scam reports received by the ACCC concerned mass marketed advance fee fraud, making this the most complained about scam category in 2009," Mr Kell said.

This scam category includes advance fee/up-front payment (Nigerian style), dating and romance, lottery and sweepstakes, and unexpected prize scams.

"Nearly 70 per cent of consumers that contacted the ACCC about scams during 2009 said they were contacted by scammers via the internet," Mr Kell said.