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Australian businesses lose $227m in payment redirection scams

There was a 77 per cent increase in payment redirections scams in Australia last year with businesses losing $277 million according to the latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report.

Australian businesses lose $227m in payment redirection scams
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And it was small and microbusinesses that were the hardest hit.

The Targeting Scams report compiles data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, major banks and money remitters, and other government agencies and it showed that in 2021 payment redirection scams, also known as business email compromise, were the most financially damaging scams for Australian businesses.

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.

ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said the most common contact method scammers used against businesses was email.

“This is not surprising given the prevalence of payment redirection scams,” he said.

“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.”

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 cyber crime, 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 Centre and passes reports to law enforcement agencies for assessment and intelligence purposes.

Reports to Scamwatch also showed 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,” Mr 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 Scamwatch website provides a range of resources to help businesses avoid scams. 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. 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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