Australian businesses lost $227 million to payment redirection scams in 2021, a 77% increase compared to 2020.
The scam losses are revealed by the competition and consumer watchdog the ACCC in its latest Targeting Scams Report that shows that payment redirection scams – also known as business email compromise – were the most financially damaging scams for Australian businesses in 2021.
The report compiles data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, major banks and money remitters, and other government agencies.
The ACCC notes that in a payment redirection scam, scammers impersonate a business or its employees via email and request an upcoming payment be redirected to a fraudulent account.
“Scamwatch data shows that small and micro businesses lost the most money to scams last year,” ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.
“The most common contact method scammers used against businesses was email, which is not surprising given the prevalence of payment redirection scams.
“We would like to see overseas initiatives such as confirmation of payee implemented in Australia, where banks automatically check to see if account name and account numbers match. We believe it may reduce the losses to scams that we are seeing,” Keogh said.
The ACCC reports that based on Scamwatch data alone, false billing scams, which include payment redirection scams, had the highest losses with $6.7 million.
“Businesses that are the victims of a cybercrime, such as payment redirection scams or ransomware, should report the incident to ReportCyber as soon as possible. ReportCyber is run by the Australian Cyber Security Center and reports to law enforcement agencies for assessment and intelligence purposes,” advises the ACCC.
“Reports to Scamwatch also show Australian farm businesses lost over $1.5 million last year to scammers who targeted the agricultural sector. The most common scam targeting farmers involved the sale of tractors and other farm machinery, with losses of $1.4 million in 2021.”
“Scammers targeted farmers looking online for a good deal on tractors and farm machinery by setting up fake websites and advertising on legitimate platforms,” Mick Keogh said.
“It is so important for businesses to be alert to scams, and to do some extra checks so you can be confident you know who you’re dealing with.”
The ACCC notes that the Scamwatch website provides a range of resources to help businesses avoid scams – and businesses that have been scammed should contact their bank as soon as possible.
“The ACCC encourages businesses to make a report on the Scamwatch website. They can also follow @scamwatch_gov(link is external) on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts for more information about current and emerging scams.
“The Small Business Information Network also provides details about new or updated resources, enforcement action, changes to Australia’s competition and consumer laws, events, surveys and scams relevant to the small business sector.”
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