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Scammers Stole $489.7 Million from Australians

hacker with laptop and phone

The ACCC recently published their latest report on scam activity in 2018, showing that reported losses from scams is still on the rise each year. You can visit ACCC’s website to read the full report of ‘Targeting scams: report of the ACCC on scam activity 2018’.

Last year, 177,516 reports were filed to Scamwatch, amounting to $107 million reported financial losses, an 18% increase since 2017. Combined with ACORN and other government agencies, $489.7 million worth of financial losses were reported in 2018. Evidently, the screenshot below of figure 1 in the report illustrates the growing trend of filed reports year-on-year.

Source: Targeting scams: report of the ACCC on scam activity 2018

The top ten scams were from financial investment ($38.8 million), dating and romance ($24.6 million), false billing ($5.5 million), remote access ($4.8 million), threats to life, arrest or other ($3.3 million), online shopping ($3.3 million), hacking ($3.1 million), unexpected prize and lottery ($2.7 million), betting and sports investment ($2.6 million) and classified scams ($2.4 million).

Furthermore, the top ten trends were ATO impersonation scams, threats to life, arrest or other scams, false billing scams, remote access scams, cryptocurrencies scams, and iTunes and Google Play card scams.

“These record losses are likely just the tip of the iceberg. We know that not everyone who suffers a loss to a scammer reports it to a government agency.”
– Delia Rickard, deputy chair of ACCC

Identity Theft and Voice Authentication

The channels scammers targeted most were phones (46.9%), emails (23.2%), text messages (14.4%) and social media (3.8%). A method scammers use to fool victims over the phone is identity theft. For example, by impersonating a person of authority, a scammer can fool victims into saying their personally identifiable information over the phone while unknowingly have their data and voice prints recorded. Scammers, in turn, use these collected data to impersonate the targeted victims and access their accounts.

Last year, 12,800 reports were filed regarding identity thefts but only 3% were losses. The total financial loss from identity theft was $1.5 million, down 18.5% since last year. The advancements in cybersecurity can be credited for this positive change. Identity theft can be mitigated through security methods such as multi-factor authentication. Many organisations, especially financial services and call centres, implement multi-factor authentication to tighten security and protect user data from fraud.

An effective type of authentication is using voice biometrics. Organisations can capture voice prints and match it with their existing database to establish if the caller of the account is a scammer or the true owner, before providing access. Here at Auraya, we provide our ArmorVox™ voice biometric engine. ArmorVox™enables users to authenticate themselves via their voice prints. Additionally, with hot lists and impostor mapping technology, potential online fraud attempts such as identity theft can be alerted and flagged. ArmorVox™ voice verification and authentication technology can be implemented for channels such as interactive voice response systems, call centres, online shopping platforms. This means that even if victims were fooled, scammers will not be able to proceed with voice verification and authentication enabled.

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