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Since 2006, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has collected information on consumer fraud through an online survey of people from Australia and New Zealand who have received fraudulent invitations during the preceding 12 months. The research is carried out on behalf of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (ACFT), a group of 22 government regulatory agencies and departments in Australia and New Zealand. It works alongside private sector, community and non-government partners to prevent fraud of this nature. To understand the dynamics of consumer fraud victimisation, the ACFT has run a range of fraud prevention and awareness-raising activities over the past ten years.

The annual survey seeks to obtain a better understanding of the public’s exposure to consumer fraud in Australia and New Zealand; to assess the range of ways in which personal fraud can affect victims; to determine how victims respond; and to identify emerging typologies and issues that could be used to inform fraud prevention initiatives. Survey respondents are not representative of the whole Australian and New Zealand population, but are individuals who choose to participate. In 2014 more than 850 people completed the survey, with good representation from all states and territories, New Zealand, and other demographic categories.

This report presents the results of the survey run in conjunction with the 2014 campaign, Know who you’re dealing with: Friend or foe? Think twice before transferring money. The campaign theme was concerned with the number of people falling victim to dating and/or romance frauds. The primary message of the campaign was if you do not personally know an individual, then do not send them money.

As in previous years, a high proportion of respondents had received a fraudulent invitation (98%), with a quarter responding in some way. Of those who responded, 22 percent had sent money to a fraudster, with a total of more than $230,000 sent in the preceding 12 months of the survey. The most prevalent fraudulent invitation involved sham computer support centres, used to extract payments or personal information from victims for non-existent services. For the past several years, personal frauds involving dating and social networking schemes were the most financially and emotionally expensive, causing losses of more than $104,000 in 2014.

This report includes additional information on phishing invitations and frauds designed to obtain personal information and passwords from victims—the theme of the May 2015 consumer fraud awareness week: Get smarter with your data. With a greater prevalence of victims losing personal details and money, increased awareness is needed of the risks involved with the loss of personal information and passwords.

Adam Tomison
Director and Chief Executive Officer

Last updated
3 November 2017