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$227m stolen in payment redirection swindles, says ACCC

Australian businesses are continuing to lose money in scams, with $227 million disappearing in “payment redirection” fraud last year.

That’s a 77 per cent spike in money lost to the common scam, where someone pretends to be a business or an employer and requests money to be sent to a fraudulent account.

It comes from data released in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Targeting Scams report, which compiles figures from government agencies and major banks, among other sources.

“The most common contact method scammers used against businesses was email, which is not surprising given the prevalence of payment redirection scams,” deputy chair Mick Keogh said.

“We would like to see overseas initiatives such as confirmation of payee implemented in Australia, where banks automatically check to see if account names and account numbers match … it may reduce the losses to scams that we are seeing.”

According to data solely from ACCC Scamwatch, false billing was the most damaging scam ($6.7 million of losses), while investment scams were second ($5.1 million).

Micro businesses with four or less staff members had the most number of scams reported (1093), while medium-sized businesses with between 20 and 199 staff lost the most money ($4.2 million).

Mr Keogh pointed to $1.4 million of losses where farmers were hit with the fraudulent sale of machinery as how targeted the scams can be.

“Scammers targeted farmers looking online for a good deal on tractors and farm machinery by setting up fake websites and advertising on legitimate platforms,” he 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.”

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