Email scams cost Australian Businesses $132 million

Business email compromise scams caused the highest losses across all scam types in 2019 costing businesses $132 million.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)  Targeting Scams report, small and micro businesses reported more scams than medium and large-sized businesses. The average loss was $11,000, but some businesses lost up to $200,000.

“These combined losses from the ACCC, other government agencies and the big four banks show how financially harmful these scams can be,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

“Scammers intercept legitimate invoices and change the details to include fraudulent payment information. The recipient will pay the invoice as normal and not realise they have been scammed.”

“Another technique used by scammers is to impersonate the CEO of a company and request staff transfer funds to them for a variety of reasons, such as to purchase gift cards as a surprise for other staff.”

Scamwatch alone received almost 6,000 reports from businesses last year with $5.3 million in reported losses. False billing was the most commonly reported type of scam which includes business email compromise scams.

“It is important for businesses and their staff to know that these scams are out there so they can learn how to avoid them,” Keogh said.

Other scams reported by businesses include online shopping scams where the business attempts to buy equipment online and the product never arrives.

“Scammers are increasingly using email scams to target businesses of all sizes. It is important to have strong processes in place for verifying and paying accounts and businesses should ensure their systems have up-to-date anti-virus software,” Keogh said.