Australians who are older or have disability reported record losses in 2018 according to the ACCC’s annual Targeting Scams report released this week.

Australians aged over 65 submitted over 26,400 reports to Scamwatch in 2018, with losses of more than $21.4 million. This represents an increase of five per cent in reports but 22 per cent in losses.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said scammers will scour dating sites and social media for older Australians who have recently divorced or lost a long term partner, taking advantage of those who are inexperienced with these sites and may be in a vulnerable emotional state.

“Investment scams are the most financially harmful because the scammers invest time and money into convincing sales pitches, flashy websites and even glossy brochures,” she said.

Scamwatch received over 7800 reports from people with disability or who identified themselves as having a chronic illness with over $8.7 million in losses. These Australians also reported higher losses per report to investment scams and dating and romance scams when compared with those that did not identify as having a disability or chronic illness.

“The ACCC is committed to continuing our education and awareness efforts. As vulnerable consumers can be difficult to reach through traditional channels we also encourage the wider community to assist in warning these consumers about scams,” Rickard said.

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