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New figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that SMEs represented an overwhelming share of reported losses from business scams.
According to the ACCC’s Targeting scams 2017 report, SMEs represented $3.82 million (81.4 per cent) of the $4.66 million in reported losses through business scams in 2017.
SMEs also represented 3,732 (68.7 per cent) of the 5,432 reports it received from businesses in 2017.
By category, ‘Other business, employment and investment scams’ recorded the highest losses reported by businesses, representing $1.65 million in losses from 658 reports.
Reports fitting under the category included scammers offering services commonly used by businesses such as web page development, search engine optimisation, small business loans and business directory listings.
In 2017, the ACCC said the typical business scam was delivered via email (60 per cent) and money was sent via bank transfers (85 per cent) rather than through remittance services or cryptocurrencies which are common in other scams.
“More complex scams targeting businesses involve the use of a range of targeted techniques like phishing and the use of malware such as trojans and keyloggers to get a specific person in an organisation to give up key information like passwords to email accounts or IT systems,” the report said.
“This information is then used to hack a business’s IT systems and misdirect funds to their own accounts.”
In particular, the report singled out business email compromise scams as problematic for businesses as they “are significantly more complex”.
The scam is built around convincing the victim of a lie but the set-up requires very specific technical skills and a more significant time investment.
“Scammers attempted to send emails to redirect funds wherever funds were transferred between parties including between businesses and their suppliers and businesses and their customers,” the report said.
“This scam requires a patient and strategic approach and can result in significant losses for the victim.”