West Australians have reported losing a total of $10.7 million to scams in 2018, a 32 per cent increase from the previous year, according to figures released by WA ScamNet.
There was also an increase in the number of victims with 569 people reporting losses to WA ScamNet in 2018, a 42 per cent increase from 2017.
There was a huge hike in losses to investment scams, which topped the list of categories, followed by romance scams and ‘buying and selling’ online resulted in more people being stung.
Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said the losses were staggering as scams have become a major crime impacting victims around the world.
“Perpetrating scams is a highly profitable business for organised criminals who are becoming increasingly professional at fleecing money from their innocent victims,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Apart from the financial losses, there is a huge emotional toll for victims, many of whom are traumatised by their experience and suffer from a lack of confidence as a result.
“Individuals and businesses are potential targets for scammers, so our challenge is to ensure that they don’t become victims by suffering financial losses.
“Out of the blue emails and phone calls should be treated with suspicion, especially if they are demanding money, personal information or asking to change bank details.”
Collie Police Senior Sergeant Heath Soutar said while no one in Collie had reported to police that they had lost money to scammers, locals regularly reported receiving scam calls.
“We get a lot of calls at the station from people reporting they’ve received a scam call,” he said.
“The scammers even call the police station to try and scam us ... so I don’t think they are targeting anyone, but just ringing indiscriminately.”
Senior Sergeant Soutar said any scams should be reported to ScamWatch or ScamNet.
“The important thing is if a call sounds to good to be true, then it almost certainly is,” he said.