SCAMMERS gleaned more than $21.4 million from Australians aged over 65 last year.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Targeting Scams report, more than 26,400 scams were reported to Scamwatch by seniors in 2018. While reports are only up by 5 per cent compared to 2017, losses are up by 22 per cent.
It seems scammers are luring their victims with the promise of a comfortable retirement, with the report showing investment scams recording more losses ($7.6 million) than any other type of scam.
"Investment scams are the most financially harmful because the scammers invest time and money into convincing sales pitches, flashy websites and even glossy brochures," said the commission's chair Delia Rickard.
"Scammers will start with a cold call to their victim promising low risk investments for high returns. They may spend months grooming their victims and once a victim invests, they're quickly convinced to put more and more money in. As soon as the victim tries to cash in on their investment, the scammer quickly disappears."
Lonely hearts are also preyed upon, with $5.8 million lost to dating and romance scams.
"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," Ms Rickard said.
People with a disability are also over represented in scam losses.
Scamwatch received more than 7800 reports last year from people with disability or who identified themselves as having a chronic illness. More than $8.7 million was lost.
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.
If you think you've been scammed, contact your local police station and report it to Scamwatch.
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