Monday, May 20, 2024

Facebook scams surge in record year for WA cybercrime

The WA ScamNet Year in Review report has revealed scam records in the state were shattered last year, with 1,398 victims reportedly fleeced of $21,995,489 in 2023, up 36% from 2022.

The new data showed buyers and sellers on classified sites and online marketplaces accounted for the highest number of victims across all scam-types.

Of the 435 people who reported losing $590,000 on buy/sell classified sites, Facebook Marketplace was responsible for 163 victims and $116,500 in losses.

Another common Marketplace scam involves fake rental property listings, where scammers pose as landlords to fleece prospective tenants of upfront bond and rent money.

“Social media is a great tool for keeping us all connected, but sadly we know it can also be a place where scammers are hiding in plain sight,” said said Commerce Minister, Sue Ellery.

“The figures from the WA ScamNet report show why it’s important for consumers to continue to ‘practice the pause.’ Whether it’s taking time to consider whether a sale or offer online is legitimate or sharing personal information, these decisions could save you from the financial and emotional toll that comes with being scammed.

“Payment methods are also crucial to look out for, so make sure you only use secure forms of payment when using online marketplaces.

“The best way to protect yourself when visiting online marketplaces is to treat ‘too good to be true’ offers with scepticism, and to also be suspicious of buyers or sellers who can’t meet in person,” she said.

Facebook scams generally were the top-reported scam to Consumer Protection, up 62% on 2022 figures. Examples of scams originating on the social media platform included fake prizes and giveaways, phoney job offers, bogus shopping adverts, and hacked accounts promoting cryptocurrency schemes.

As in previous years, the greatest amount of money was lost by those seeking high investment returns or looking for love online. Investment scams, primarily involving cryptocurrencies, were behind $12.1 million in losses, while dating and romance scams cost victims $3.7 million.

Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, WA ScamNet predicts the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in voice and video scams to be an emerging feature, particularly when it comes to romance and family impersonation scams.

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