Payment redirection scams – where criminals often impersonate suppliers – cost Australian businesses A$227m (US$154m) in 2021, according to the country’s competition watchdog.
This was a 77% year-on-year increase, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in its latest Targeting Scams report.
In payment redirection scams criminals impersonate a business via email – often a supplier requesting legitimate payment – and attempt to redirect funds into a bank account of their choice.
Figures compiled from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, major banks, money remitters and other government agencies showed that this type of crime – also known as business email compromise – were the most financially damaging scams for Australian businesses last year.
ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said: “Scamwatch data shows that small and micro businesses lost the most money to scams last year.
“The most common contact method scammers used against businesses was email, which is not surprising given the prevalence of payment redirection scams.”
Keogh called on Australia to implement initiatives commonly used overseas, such as confirmation of payee – where banks automatically check to see if the account name and account numbers match.
“We believe it may reduce the losses to scams that we are seeing,” Keogh said.
The ACCC added that Australian farm businesses had lost more $1.5m last year to scammers who targeted the agricultural sector – with fake tractor suppliers accounting for losses of $1.4m.
“Scammers targeted farmers looking online for a good deal on tractors and farm machinery by setting up fake websites and advertising on legitimate platforms,” Keogh added.
“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 encouraged businesses who believed they had been targeted by this kind of fraud to report it to the Scamwatch website.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.