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The 2014 consumer fraud survey results

Sample characteristics

Between 1 January and 30 June 2014, 874 people responded to the survey hosted on the AIC’s website (www.aic.gov.au). Nine respondents were removed, as they did not live in Australia or New Zealand, leaving 865 responses to form the sample for analysis.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents (n=762) reported that they completed the survey in their capacity as a member of the public. Of that 88 percent, 175 (23%) were retirees. Six respondents (0.7%) were police, 18 (2.1%) were employed by an ACFT government agency, three (0.3%) were employed by a taskforce private sector partner, and 71 (8.2%) were employed by another government agency.

Websites were the most popular way in which respondents were directed to the survey, with the SCAMwatch site referring 303 (35%) respondents, and other government websites referring 172 (19.9%). The media generated 122 responses (14.1%); posters and pamphlets attracted six respondents (0.7%) with 54 respondents (6.2%) being referred to the survey by another agency. A further 62 respondents (7.2%) found out about the survey through word of mouth. Two hundred and sixteen respondents had learnt about the survey through other means, such as ‘neighbourhood watch newsletters’, local police notifications and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Seventeen percent (n=144) were aware of the ACFT’s 2014 campaign, and 16 percent (n=135) were aware of campaigns that had been run in previous years. Forty-four respondents (5%) had completed the 2013 survey, 27 (3.1%) had completed the 2012 survey, 11 (1.3%) had completed the 2011 survey and seven respondents (0.8%) had completed the 2010 survey. A total of 783 respondents (90.5%) had never previously completed the survey.

The survey received an average of 36 responses a week in the 24 weeks before the 2013 campaign (n=859); five participants completed the survey during the week-long campaign; while the remaining five completed the survey in the week following the campaign. Fifty-two percent (n=451) of participants completed the survey within the first month of the survey opening (January 2014).

Survey respondents were asked why they chose to complete the survey. Most (n=652, 75%) wanted to ‘assist in research to combat scammers’. A further 362 participants (72%) chose to participate because ‘they had received scams, but not been scammed’; whereas 120 participants (14%) completed the survey because they had ‘recently been scammed’ and 183 completed the survey as they ‘wanted to learn more about scams’. Fifty-eight participants provided ‘other’ reasons for completing the survey. These ranged from family members or friends falling victim to fraudulent invitations, ‘wanting to create awareness of new scams’, and people believing that personal fraud had not been taken seriously enough.

Demographics

Females made up 57 percent of the sample (n=491), and males 41 percent (n=356). Two percent (n=18) declined to disclose their gender. Table 2 shows the breakdown of respondents by age group.

Sixty-six percent of the sample was aged over 45 years. Those 17 years and under were the least likely to complete the survey, with only 12 participants (1.4%) in that category (see Table 2).

As shown in Figure 1, most survey participants lived in New South Wales (28.2%, n=244), Queensland (22.9%, n=198) and Victoria (17.5%, n=151). As with previous years, the least number of respondents lived in New Zealand (0.7%, n=6). Tasmania (3.9%, n=34), the Northern Territory (0.9%, n=8) and Western Australia (6.8%, n=59) were the least represented states and territories in Australia.

When asked about income, almost a third of respondents (n=272, 31.5%) responded that they would rather not disclose their income details. More than a third of the sample, 321 (37%) reported income levels that ranged between $20,000 to less than $80,000. Thirteen percent (n=116) reported an annual income of less than $20,000 and 18 percent (n=156) earned more than $80,000 a year. This is shown in Figure 2.

Table 2 Respondents by age (n and %)
Age category (years) n %
17 and under 12 1.4
18–24 31 3.6
25–34 98 11.3
35–44 137 15.8
45–54 208 24.1
55–64 191 22.1
65 and over 171 19.8
I’d rather not say 17 2.0
Total 865 100.0

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Figure 1 Respondents by region (%)

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Figure 2 Respondents by annual income (%)

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Receiving fraudulent invitations

Of the 865 survey participants in 2014, 844 (98%) had received at least one unsolicited fraudulent invitation. The number and percentage of invitations is provided by fraud type in Table 3.

Respondents may have received an invitation for more than one fraud type. The most common type received, reported by 545 (63%) of survey participants, was the fraudulent computer support centre scheme. This was followed by lottery fraud invitation, received by 527 participants (61% of survey participants). The least common was the boiler-room fraud invitation, received by just 41 (5%) survey participants.

The types of delivery methods by which respondents reported receiving fraudulent invitations are provided in Table 4. If participants received more than one fraudulent invitation, multiple responses are recorded.

Table 3 Fraudulent invitations received by fraud type
Fraud Received invitation
(n)
Received invitation
(%) (n=844)
Total sample
(%) (n=865)
Lottery frauds 527 62.4 60.9
Advance fee fraud 373 44.2 43.1
Inheritance fraud 297 35.2 34.3
Phishing 473 56.0 54.7
Financial advice schemes 121 14.3 14.0
Boiler-room fraud 41 4.9 4.7
Work from home fraudulent invitations 309 36.6 35.7
Fraudulent computer support schemes 545 64.6 63.0
Dating/social networking fraud 131 15.5 15.1
Other 281 33.3 32.5

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Table 4 Fraudulent invitations by delivery method
Method of delivery Received an invitation
(n)
Received an invitation (%) (n=844) Total sample
(%) (n=865)
Mail 211 25.0 24.4
Email 646 76.5 74.7
Telephone 624 73.9 72.1
SMS 312 37.0 36.1
Internet site/social networking 251 29.7 29.0
Other 47 5.6 5.4

Note: Respondents could select multiple delivery methods therefore percentages will not total 100

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Email was the most popular delivery method, with 76.5 percent (n=646) of respondents who had received a fraudulent invitation, receiving this via email. Following the trends from recent years, the landline telephone closely followed email as the most common delivery method and was reported by 624 (74%) respondents who had received a fraudulent invitation. The least popular method for delivering fraudulent invitations was via mail, reported by only 211 respondents (25% of those who received an invitation).

Respondents were asked how many times over the previous 12 months had they received fraudulent invitations by each delivery method. The responses are shown in Figure 3. As in past years, email remains the most common fraud delivery method and people can receive multiple invitations this way. However, it should be noted that invitations received by landline telephone are also becoming a common delivery method, with fraudulent invitations received via this method increasing from 67 percent of the sample in 2013 to 72 percent of the total current sample. Some examples of ‘Other’ delivery methods included face-to-face fraud delivery and respondents spotting what they perceived to be fraudulent invitations in magazines and pamphlets.

Figure 3 Number of fraudulent invitations received by delivery method (n)

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Responding to fraudulent invitations

In the 12 months before the survey completion date, 220 (25%) of the survey participants responded to a fraudulent invitation by requesting further information, providing personal details, suffering a financial loss, or providing personal information and suffering a financial loss. This represented 26 percent of those who had received a fraudulent invitation during the 12-month period.

Ten percent of the sample who had received an invitation sent their personal details, suffered either a financial loss or lost both money and personal details in response to at least one invitation (n=88, 10% of the total sample). Forty-one participants (5% of the sample who received a fraudulent invitation and 4.7% of the total sample) sent their personal details or passwords only, and 28 participants (3% of the total sample) sent money only to at least one invitation. Twenty-four participants (2.8% of the total sample and 11% of the sample who had responded to a fraudulent invitation) sent personal details and suffered a financial loss as a result of a fraudulent invitation or in some cases, multiple fraudulent invitations (see Table 7).

Tables 5 and 6 show the number of respondents who provided personal details or lost money to each type of fraud, as well as the percentage of the total sample who received any type of fraudulent invitation, and the percentage of the sample who received that particular fraudulent invitation. Table 7 shows the number of respondents who, as a result of the fraud, provided personal data and suffered a financial loss. Some respondents provided personal details and/or lost money as the result of multiple frauds. Eighteen respondents advised that they had sent money (multiple times), personal details and sometimes both as a result of a fraudulent invitation.

Table 5 Loss of personal details only by fraudulent invitation type
Invitation type Personal details provided (n) Received an invitation (%) (n=844) Total sample (%) (n=865) Received an invitation to that particular fraud type (%)
Lottery fraud 6 0.71 0.70 1.14
Advance fee fraud 1 0.12 0.12 0.27
Inheritance fraud 0 0 0 0
Phishing 17 2.01 2.00 3.59
Financial advice fraud 2 0.24 0.23 1.65
Boiler-room frauds 0 0 0 0
Work from home fraud 2 0.24 0.23 0.65
Computer support centre frauds 10 1.18 1.17 1.83
Dating or social networking fraud 2 0.24 0.23 1.53
Other types of fraudulent invitations 12 1.42 1.39 4.27

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Table 6 Loss of money only by fraudulent invitation type
Invitation type Suffered a financial loss (n) Received an invitation (%) (n=844) Total sample (%) (n=865) Received an invitation to that particular fraud type (%)
Lottery fraud 3 0.36 0.35 0.57
Advance fee fraud 6 0.71 0.69 1.60
Inheritance fraud 0 0 0 0
Phishing 2 0.24 0.23 0.42
Financial advice fraud 1 0.12 0.12 0.83
Boiler-room frauds 0 0 0 0
Work from home fraud 0 0 0 0
Computer support centre frauds 4 0.47 0.46 0.73
Dating or social networking fraud 7 0.83 0.81 5.34
Other types of fraudulent invitations 12 1.42 1.39 4.27

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

In the 2014 survey, no respondents reported losing money to a fraudulent inheritance invitation, a boiler-room fraud, or a fraudulent invitation to work from home. Likewise, no respondents advised providing personal details to fraudulent invitations about inheritances or boiler-room frauds. Consistent with surveys from prior years, dating/social networking fraudulent invitations had the highest conversion rates, that is, they were the type of fraudulent invitation that would lead to respondents sending money as a result of the invitation. Of all the respondents who received a dating or social networking fraudulent invitation, more than five percent (n=7 of the 131 respondents who received that type of invitation) suffered a financial loss. The type of fraudulent invitation that had the lowest conversion rate in terms of suffering a financial loss was the phishing invitation. This fraud type caused the most respondents (aside from ‘other fraudulent invitations’) to lose personal details or passwords as a result of those fraudulent invitations (3.6% of the 473 participants who received those invitations).

Quite a few respondents advised they had sent money and/or personal details to more than one fraudulent invitation. Two respondents had sent personal details or passwords to more than one fraudulent invitation, and a further two suffered financial losses as a result of multiple fraudulent invitations. One respondent sent personal details or passwords to one fraudulent invitation and then suffered a financial loss as a result of another fraudulent invitation.

Table 7 Loss of money and personal details
Fraud type Suffered loss of money and personal details Received an invitation
(%) (n=844)
Total sample
(%) (n=865)
Received an invitation to that particular fraud type (%)
Lottery fraud 3 0.36 0.35 0.57
Advance fee fraud 3 0.36 0.35 0.80
Inheritance fraud 0 0 0 0
Phishing 3 0.36 0.35 0.63
Financial advice fraud 2 0.24 0.23 1.65
Boiler-room frauds 1 0.12 0.12 2.44
Work from home fraud 1 0.12 0.12 0.32
Computer support centre frauds 4 0.47 0.46 0.73
Dating or social networking fraud 7 0.83 0.81 5.34
Other types of fraudulent invitations 9 1.07 1.04 3.20

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Of the 52 participants in the survey who reported suffering a financial loss (either sending money only to a fraudulent invitation, or having sent money and personal details in response to a fraudulent invitation), 51 (99%) disclosed the amount sent. This ranged from $49.95−$38,000. For the first year since the AIC began conducting the survey no obvious outliers were included in the amounts lost and so all amounts were included in the analysis. The reported financial losses incurred by participants totalled $230,707.75, (mean=$4,500, median=$900).

As shown in Figure 4, the median financial loss reported over the years that the ACFT survey has been running had been steadily declining until 2013, when the amount lost by respondents spiked. In 2014 the median financial loss decreased to $900, which, aside from 2013, was still higher than other reported losses since 2010.

Participants were able to select multiple responses when asked why they did not respond to fraudulent invitations (see Table 8). The most common reasons for not responding to fraudulent invitations included ‘had received similar offers before and thought they were fraudulent’ (reported by 50.5% of the total sample), and ‘had seen/heard this was a type of fraudulent invitation in the media or a public source’ (48% of the total sample). The least common reason for not responding to a fraudulent invitation was ‘wanted to respond but could not afford to participate’ (0.7% of the total sample).

Figure 4 Median reported financial loss by year ($)

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Surveys 2008–14 [AIC computer file]

Table 8 Reasons for not responding to fraudulent invitations received
Reason for not responding n Received an invitation (%) (n=844) Total sample
(%) (n=865)
Seemed too good to be true 331 39.2 38.3
Had received similar offers before and thought they were fraudulent 437 51.8 50.5
Had seen/heard this was a type of fraudulent invitation in the media or a public source 415 49.2 48.0
Was told it was fraudulent by someone I knew 124 15.0 14.3
Someone I know has been a victim of a fraud before 64 7.6 7.4
Wanted to respond but could not afford to participate 6 0.7 0.7
Something was not quite right with the offer or invitation 377 44.7 43.6
Offer was identified as spam/unsafe by internet filter 201 23.8 23.2
Other 142 16.8 16.4

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Victim demographics

In this report, victims are defined as those who had provided their personal details or passwords and/or suffered a financial loss as a result of a fraudulent invitation. Of the 88 victims who had unwittingly provided personal details or suffered a financial loss as a result of the fraud, 59 (67% of victims) identified themselves as female and 29 (33% of victims) as male. Those respondents who advised that they were victims of a fraudulent invitation identified their gender. Of the total respondents who chose to disclose their gender (n=18, 2% of the 865 participants declined to disclose their gender), 12 percent of the 491 females experienced victimisation due to fraudulent invitations compared with 16.6 percent of 356 males.

Table 9 shows the age of victims, including the percentage of total respondents within that age category who reported being a victim. Of the 88 respondents who were identified as victims in the survey, more than 26 percent were aged 45–54 years. No victims were aged 17 years or younger.

Table 10 presents victims’ annual income levels, as well as the percentage of total respondents within that income category who reported victimisation. The most frequent income category among victims was for those who earned between $20,000 and less than $40,000 (22%), closely followed by those earning less than $20,000 (20%).

Table 11 shows victims by the region in which they lived, as well as the percentage of total respondents within that region who reported victimisation. Most of those who identified as victims lived in New South Wales (n=27, 31% of the sample who reported victimisation), Queensland (n=19, 22%) and Victoria, where respondents living there also accounted for the same proportion of victims as Queensland (n=19, 22%). No respondents living in New Zealand or the Northern Territory reported they were victims of a fraudulent invitation in the 12 months prior to completing the survey.

Table 9 Victims by age
Age category (years) n=88 % of victims Number of respondents in that age category (n) Respondents within that age category
(%)
17 and under 0 0 12 0
18–24 2 2.27 31 6.45
25–34 9 10.23 98 9.18
35–44 11 12.50 137 8.03
45–54 23 26.14 208 11.06
55–64 18 20.45 191 9.42
65 and over 22 25.00 171 12.87
Respondents who chose not to disclose 3 3.41 17 17.65

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Table 10 Victims by annual income
Annual income n=88 % of victims Number of respondents in that income range (n) Respondents within that income category (%)
Less than $20,000 18 20.45 116 13.41
$20,000 to <$40,000 19 21.59 118 13.64
$40,000 to <$60,000 7 7.95 102 11.79
$60,000 to <$80,000 16 18.18 101 11.68
Over $80,000 12 13.64 156 18.03
I’d rather not say 16 18.18 272 31.45

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Table 11 Victims by region
Annual income n % (n=88) Respondents within that region (%)
Australian Capital Territory 8 9.09 9.60
New South Wales 27 30.68 28.21
New Zealand 0 0 0.69
Northern Territory 0 0 0.92
Queensland 19 21.59 22.89
South Australia 7 7.95 8.44
Tasmania 4 4.55 3.93
Victoria 19 21.59 17.46
Western Australia 3 3.41 6.82
Missing 1 1.14 0.12

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Reporting fraudulent invitations

Respondents were asked for each fraudulent invitation they had received if they had reported the invitation to anyone. Almost 75 percent of respondents who had received a fraudulent invitation reported it to at least one other person or organisation (n=631, 73.0% of the total sample). They most commonly reported fraudulent invitations to ‘friends and/or family’ (51.9% of respondents who received a fraudulent invitation)—see Table 12.

Of the 88 respondents who reported falling victim to a fraudulent invitation, 79 (89.8%) reported the invitation to at least one other person. When friends and family were excluded the reporting rate declined to just 31.8 percent (n=28) of the victim respondents who had reported to an external organisation. Table 13 shows those organisations or persons that victims reported to, with respondents permitted to select more than one option. Aside from family and friends, victims were most likely to report frauds to the business represented in the fraudulent invitation, for example a bank or online shopping business. Twenty victims of fraudulent invitations reported the incident to a person not provided in the survey. These ranged from ‘ombudsman’ and Crime Stoppers to government departments and the Do Not Call register set up by the Australian government.

Respondents were asked if they had reported fraudulent invitations they had received to a formal agency, and their reasons for doing so. Participants could select more than one reason for reporting a fraudulent invitation. Results are reported in Table 14 below. The most common reasons for reporting a fraudulent invitation included ‘wanting to prevent others from being scammed’ (34% of the sample who received an invitation) and ‘knew it was the right thing to do’ (22% of the sample who received an invitation). Respondents were given the option to provide their own reasons for reporting the fraudulent invitation. These varied from being angry at the attempted fraud and being sick of receiving those types of invitations, to wanting to find out what had happened to personal information and data.

Table 12 Reporting of fraudulent invitations by agency
Organisation or person reported to n Received an invitation
(%) (n=844)
Total sample
(%) (n=865)
Not reported to anyone 234 27.7 27.1
Family/friends 438 51.9 50.6
Police 70 8.3 8.1
SCAMwatch website (www.scamwatch.gov.au) 147 17.4 17.0
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 48 5.7 5.6
The business represented (eg bank, eBay etc) 171 20.3 19.8
Internet service provider 56 6.6 6.5
Legal aid, a lawyer, or a community legal services clinic 5 0.6 0.6
Unable to recall 14 1.7 1.6
Other 126 14.9 14.6

Note: Participants could select more than one option so columns will not total 865

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Table 13 Reporting of victimisation by agency
Organisation or person reported to n Reported victimisation (%) (n=88)
Not reported to anyone 9 10.2
Family/friends 51 58.0
Police 27 30.7
SCAMwatch website (www.scamwatch.gov.au) 27 30.7
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 12 13.6
The business represented (eg bank, eBay etc) 34 38.6
Internet service provider 8 9.1
Legal aid, a lawyer, or a community legal services clinic 4 4.5
Unable to recall 3 3.4
Other 20 22.7

Note: Participants could select more than one organisation or person to report to

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Table 14 Reasons for reporting fraudulent invitations received
Reason for reporting invitation n Received an invitation (%) (n=844) Total sample
(%) (n=865)
Desired the apprehension of offender(s) 137 16.23 15.8
Wanted to prevent others from being scammed 289 34.24 33.4
Knew it was the right thing to do 188 22.27 21.7
To assist in the investigation of an offence 172 20.38 19.9
To support insurance claim 6 0.71 0.7
Other 60 7.11 6.9

Note: Participants could select more than one option

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Table 15 Reasons for not reporting fraudulent invitations
Reason for not reporting n Received an invitation (%) (n=844) Total sample
(%) (n=865)
Not worth the effort 251 29.74 29.0
Didn’t think it was illegal 27 3.20 3.1
Unsure of which agency to contact 318 37.68 36.8
Feared I would get in trouble 4 0.47 0.5
Didn’t think anything would be done 279 33.06 32.3
Receive too many to report 233 27.61 26.9
Other 137 16.23 15.8

Note: Participants could select more than one option

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Reasons for not reporting fraudulent invitations are outlined in Table 15. The most commonly provided reasons included ‘unsure of which agency to contact’ (38% of the sample who had received an invitation) and ‘didn’t think anything would be done’ (33%). It should be noted that respondents may have reported some fraudulent invitations that they received, but not all, and they may have had more than one reason for not reporting the invitation. Another reason that may impact the reporting of fraudulent invitations is that most computers have anti-spam ware in email software, which could mean that people were unaware that they had actually received fraudulent invitations, as they were automatically blocked by computer security software.

Respondents were also provided with the opportunity to supply their own reasons for not reporting any fraudulent invitations they had received. As with past ACFT surveys, a common reason was the assumption that the fraud was well-known. Other responses included ‘I had no information to provide authorities with’ while others believed ‘I have the knowledge to avoid most scams’. Some respondents believed that by completing the survey they had indeed reported the invitation. This was demonstrated by the response, ‘I am reporting to you’.

The survey asked whether respondents had reported fraudulent invitations on behalf of anyone else. Fifty respondents (5.8%) indicated that they had, see Table 16 below. Participants were allowed to select all options that applied to them. Some examples included in the ‘other’ were ‘spouse’ and on behalf of the business or work that was being used in the fraud.

Table 16 Fraudulent invitations reported on behalf of someone else
Invitation reported on behalf of n Total sample
(%) (n=865)
Child (son or daughter) 4 0.5
Older relative (brother/sister, parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle) 35 3.9
Younger relative (niece/nephew, brother/sister) 2 0.2
A friend 6 0.7
A colleague 7 0.8
A student (if you are a teacher or in a similar capacity) 2 0.2
Other 9 1.0

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Perceptions of fraudulent invitations

Respondents were asked how they perceived each fraudulent invitation—whether they considered each invitation as a crime; wrong, but not a crime; or just something that happens. They also had the option of indicating I don’t know if unsure of the response. The results are outlined in Table 17. Some respondents chose not to respond to the question, and are categorised as ‘missing’.

Advance fee fraud was the type of fraudulent invitation most likely to be considered a crime by respondents (84% of the sample), followed by fraudulent invitations via phishing (82%). While more respondents saw those types of invitations as crimes, the types less likely to be viewed as crimes and perhaps just something that happens were unsolicited invitations for financial advice. Only 48 percent of respondents considered those types of invitations a crime. Thirty percent of respondents considered dating or social networking fraudulent invitations to be wrong, but not a crime. Fraudulent invitations that could not be classified elsewhere caused the most confusion among respondents, with 24 percent not being able to decide if they were a crime, wrong but not a crime, or just something that happens (see Table 17).

The survey also explored the perception of fraudulent invitations by respondents who reported victimisation via those particular frauds. Eighteen respondents reported being a victim of multiple frauds. Accordingly, the number of victims in Table 18 does not total the 88 respondents identified as victims. One victim of a boiler-room fraud considered the invitation to be a crime. As with Table 18, respondents who were victims of advance fee fraud were most likely to consider those types of fraudulent invitations a crime. No victims of a fraudulent invitation considered the frauds as just something that happens, although a few respondents did not know how to classify the invitations.

Table 17 Perceptions of fraudulent invitations
A crime Wrong, but not a crime Just something that happens I don’t know Missing
Invitation type n % n % n % n % n %
Lottery 564 65.2 179 20.7 52 6.0 28 3.2 40 4.9
Advance fee 725 83.8 63 7.3 24 2.8 15 1.7 38 4.4
Inheritance 610 70.5 152 17.6 36 4.2 25 2.9 42 4.9
Phishing 711 82.2 76 8.8 19 2.2 16 1.9 43 5.0
Financial advice 419 48.4 272 31.5 88 10.2 40 4.6 46 5.3
Boiler-room 542 62.7 172 19.9 52 6.0 48 5.6 51 5.9
Work from home 589 68.1 144 16.7 54 6.2 50 3.7 46 5.3
Computer support 656 75.8 121 14.0 25 2.9 27 3.1 36 4.2
Dating or social networking 449 51.9 262 30.3 51 5.9 50 5.8 53 6.1
Other 330 38.2 68 7.9 31 3.6 205 23.7 231 26.7

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Table 18 Perceptions of fraudulent invitations by respondents who reported victimisation by a particular fraud
Invitation type A crime Wrong but not a crime Just something that happens I don’t know
(number of victims) n % n % n % n %
Lottery (12) 7 58.3 3 25.0 0 0 2 16.6
Advance fee (8) 7 87.5 0 0 0 0 1 14.3
Inheritance (0) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Phishing (20) 16 80.0 2 10.0 0 0 2 10.00
Financial advice (5) 3 60.0 1 20.0 0 0 1 20.0
Boiler-room (1) 1 100.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Work from home (3) 2 66.7 0 0 0 0 1 33.3
Computer support (18) 12 66.7 6 33.3 0 0 0 0
Dating or social networking (14) 10 71.4 3 21.4 0 0 1 7.1
Other (32) 19 59.4 2 6.3 0 0 11 34.5

Note: 18 victims of a fraud were victims of multiple consumer frauds, therefore the number of victims for each fraud type totals more than the 88 victims identified

Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Specific fraudulent invitations

As previously noted, 844 respondents received at least one fraudulent invitation in the 12 months before completing the survey. Of those, 102 received only one invitation, leaving 742 respondents who had received multiple invitations. Of the 102 respondents who received just one invitation, four respondents sent personal details in response to that invitation and another four sent money to the scammer. Five respondents sent both money and personal details or passwords in response to a single fraudulent invitation. As with the previous report, the most common fraudulent invitations received by respondents were those relating to fraudulent computer support schemes. This was also the case for respondents who received a single fraudulent invitation. The next most frequently received fraudulent invitation for respondents who only received one invitation was under the ‘other’ category.

Fraudulent computer support centre invitations resulted in the most people seeking further information from fraudsters, with 40 respondents who received that particular invitation (n=545) requesting further information. In the 2014 survey no respondents identified as victims of a fraudulent inheritance invitation, however seven respondents did request further information. As with the previous year’s report, the ‘other’ fraudulent invitation category, comprising a range of diverse fraud types, also had a number of respondents who requested further information about the invitation. Fifteen percent of respondents who received that type of fraudulent invitation requested further information from the fraudster (n=43).

The highest number of victims who sent personal details or passwords had responded to fraudulent invitations or emails that used phishing tactics. A total of 473 respondents received that type of invitation and six percent (n=17) advised that they had disclosed their personal details and/or passwords as a result.

The fraudulent invitation with the highest conversion rate—that is, number of victims per fraudulent invitation sent—was dating and social networking fraud. Eleven percent of respondents who received an invitation of that nature (n=131) disclosed they were victims of a fraudulent invitation. Twelve respondents provided details of the amount of money they sent to fraudsters. The total amount of money reportedly lost to dating and/or social networking fraud in 2014 was $104,100 and the median amount sent by victims was $4,500. The amounts sent as a result of a dating or social networking fraudulent invitation ranged from $500 to $35,000. In the 2014 survey, losses due to dating and social networking invitations alone comprised 45 percent of the total losses reported in the survey. No respondents aged 24 years or younger were victims of a dating and/or social networking fraud, nor aged 35–44 years.

After dating and social network fraudulent invitations, those involving financial advice caused the next highest losses for respondents. Three respondents suffered a financial loss and/or lost personal details (one sent money only and two sent money and personal details). Those respondents reported a total loss of $57,565. The range of financial loss experienced ranged from $165 up to $38,000 (experienced by one victim of a financial advice fraud). It should be noted that the ‘other’ fraudulent invitation type (comprising less prevalent fraudulent invitations) had 14 respondents, the largest number of any fraud type, with a combined financial loss of $20,472. Examples included ‘false advertising scam’, ‘fraudulent online sales’, and ‘prize on website’. A few respondents advised they had lost money by paying shipping fees for goods that never arrived.

Reporting habits by specific fraudulent invitation

Table 19 shows the reporting habits of victims of specific fraudulent invitations. The only type of invitation not resulting in victimisation was that relating to false inheritance claims. All other fraud types resulted in some degree of victimisation for respondents. Excluding inheritance frauds, there were three types of frauds where all victims of those frauds reported their victimisation to a person or organisation—advance fee frauds, boiler-room frauds and fraudulent work from home invitations. Victims of fraudulent lotteries or prizes were the least likely to report being the victim of a fraud, with 33 percent (n=4) of all victims of that fraud type not reporting the fraud. Fifty percent (n=4) of victims of advance fee frauds reported the incident to police, the highest percentage of respondents to report their experience to police.

Respondents were given the opportunity to report other places or people to whom they may have reported the fraud victimisation. These varied from government agencies, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Federal Police, to the post office and bank fraud squads. Respondents could indicate if they were unable to recall to whom they had reported the victimisation; those responses are not included in Table 19.

Table 19: Reporting habits by victimisation of specific fraudulent invitation type (n)
Invitation type and number of victims of fraud (n=88) No report Report to friends and family Report to police Report to SCAM-watch Report to ACCC or regulatory agency Report to the business used in the invitation Report to internet service provider Report to lawyer or Legal Aid Other
Lottery (n=12) 4 5 4 3 1 4 0 0 1
Advance fee fraud (n=8) 0 3 4 5 2 3 2 0 1
Inheritance (n=0) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Phishing (20) 5 9 5 4 1 9 1 0 3
Financial fraud (5) 1 3 2 2 1 1 0 1 0
Boiler-room fraud (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Work from home fraud (3) 0 2 0 0 1 2 2 0 0
Computer support centre (18) 4 9 5 4 1 10 2 0 1
Dating or social networking (14) 3 6 4 4 2 1 0 2 1
Other (32) 4 15 10 10 3 7 1 1 6

Source: ACFT Consumer Fraud Survey 2014 [AIC data file]

Last updated
3 November 2017