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Scam Review Reports

Each year the Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DEMIRS) – Consumer Protection Division (Consumer Protection), which operates WA ScamNet,  receives a large number of enquiries concerning scam related problems. 

Many of these enquiries are lower-level concerns where consumers wish to advise Consumer Protection of an email, phone call or some form of interaction they have had with a potential scam.  These types of enquiries are dealt with by Consumer Protection’s Contact Centre. 

Other more detailed enquiries are managed by Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet team; these enquiries tend to be more detailed in nature often including situations where consumers have fallen victim to a scam.

The reports below detail a review of the enquiries Consumer Protection recieves over the calendar year. 


2023 report - Record year for WA cybercime as Facebook scams surgeWASN Year in Review 2023 - cover

Scam records were shattered in 2023 with 1,398 Western Australian victims reportedly fleeced of $21,995,489, up 36 per cent from 2022.

Data showing buyers and sellers on classified sites and online marketplaces accounted for the highest number of victims across all scam-types.

Of the 435 people who reported losing $590,000 on buy/sell classified sites, Facebook Marketplace was responsible for 163 victims and $116,500 in losses.

Another common Marketplace scam involved fake rental property listings, where scammers posed as landlords to fleece prospective tenants of upfront bond and rent money.

Read the full 2023 WA Scam Review report and the Department's media statement


2022 report - Online shopping and trading scams hit record WA victims in 20222022ScamReportcover

Scam losses and the number of reports and victims in Western Australia broke records in 2022, with 1,203 people losing a combined $15,988,513 - a seven per cent increase on 2021’s record losses.

The report reveals online shopping and buying/selling classified scams claimed the most victims over the past year, while investment and romance scams recorded the highest financial losses.

A total of 274 online shoppers lost $876,774 and 270 buyers and sellers on classified sites lost $564,680.

Investment scams, mainly involving crypto currencies, were to blame for $6,980,254 in losses, while $2,871,468 was lost to dating/romance scams, with one individual loss of $800,000 reported in May 2022.

One of the most disturbing scams of the year involved people receiving texts from criminals masquerading as their children needing urgent funds. The ‘Hi Mum/Dad’ scam tricked 59 WA victims into paying a total of $265,353.

Read the full 2022 WA Scam Review report and the Department's media statement


2021 report - Record number of WA scam victims and losses in 2021

2021 Scam Report cover

A record number of Western Australians fell victim to scams in 2021, also losing a record amount of money.

In its 2021 Year in Review Scam Report, WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection reveals 1,041 victims, an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year, reported losses totalling $14,791,708, an increase of 27 per cent. There were 4,128 scam reports received in total, an increase of 18 per cent.

These are the highest figures recorded since the annual scam reports were first compiled in 2015.

The greatest financial losses were recorded as result of investment cons ($6.67 million), mainly cryptocurrency, and romance/dating scams ($2.99 million). 

Read the full 2021 WA Scam Review report and the Department's media statement


2020 report - Five-fold increase in online shopping scam losses in WA in 2020

An increase in online shopping activity during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge 500 per cent increase in losses to scams for that category in 2020 statistics compiled by WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection. ScamReport2020

In 2020, 257 online shoppers in WA reported total losses of $653,745, compared to 129 victims losing $127,304 in 2019.

There was also a doubling of losses and the number of scam victims in the ‘classifieds’ category with 241 consumers who were looking for second-hand goods losing a total of $544,172, compared to 126 victims losing $191,792 in 2019.

Overall, there were more scam victims but less money lost in 2020 with 952 victims losing $11.8 million. In 2019, there were 705 victims reporting $13.6 million in losses. As in most years, investment ($5.38 million) and romance ($2.17 million) scams topped the list of categories.

Read the full 2020 WA Scam Review report and the Department's media statement

2019 report - Scammers fleece $13.6 million from WA victims in 2019

In 2019 Consumer Protection’s Contact Centre received 4,043 calls regarding scam related matters, 25% fewer than in 2018.  The top three scams reported to the Contact Centre were the National Broadband Network scam (29% increase from 2018), followed by Australian Tax Office scams (39% decrease from 2018) and accident insurance scams (42% decrease from 2018).2019 WA ScamNet Review image

WA ScamNet received 2,461 contacts from Western Australians regarding losses incurred or concerns with scams in 2019, an increase of 40% from 2018.

Although there was an 8% decrease in the number of contacts reporting monetary losses, the combined losses suffered increased to $13.6 million, compared to the $10.7 million reported in 2018.

Victims reported $6 million lost to investment scams, $3.8 million to dating and romance scams and $1.1 million to hacking, among others.  

Read the full 2019 WA Scam Review report and the Department's 2019 media statement. 

2018 report - WA victims lose almost $11 million to scams in 2018

In 2018 Consumer Protection’s Contact Centre received 5,366 calls and around 17,000 emails regarding scam related matters.  False outstanding tax debts or refunds and accident insurance scams continued to be the top subjects callers enquired about in 2018, followed by the threat of the National Broadband Network being cut off if victims didn’t pay the scammer.

2018 WA ScamNet Review image


WA ScamNet received 1,176 contacts from Western Australians regarding losses incurred or concerns with scams in 2018, an increase of 27 per cent from 2017. There was a 42% increase in the number of contacts experiencing monetary losses of between less than $10 to1.5 million.

Victims suffered combined losses of $10.7 million, compared to $8 million in 2017.

The ATO scam changed in 2018 with a more aggressive scammer contacting the victim informing them that they need to contact a phone number in relation to an outstanding tax debt, or face imminent arrest and jail time. 

Read the full 2018 WA Scam Review.

2017 report - Number of victims for Apple iTunes cards scam doubles

In 2017 Consumer Protection’s Contact Centre received over 6,500 calls and 25,000 emails regarding scam related matters.  The top three subjects callers enquired about made up nearly one third of the total calls received; these were about: accident insurance; false outstanding tax debts or refunds; and scammers posing as Telstra. Scam-Review-17-fp_Page_1

WA ScamNet received 911 contacts from Western Australians regarding losses incurred or concerns with scams in 2017.  Of those 911 contacts, 398 (43%) reported suffering losses; losses ranged from small amounts under $10 through to $1 million.

As can be seen in Figure 2 below, the number of WA ScamNet contacts received in 2017 increased by 9.8% from 2016. While the total number of people reporting losses increased (7%), the overall proportion of contacts experiencing loss reduced slightly from 45% to 44%.

There was an 11% decrease in loss amounts reported to Consumer Protection in 2017. Contacts noted combined losses of $8,061,000, a fall from the $9,037,000 reported in 2016.

Read the full 2017 Scam Review .

2016 report - WA victims lose $10 million to scams in 2016

The number of West Australians duped by scammers dropped by 17 per cent in 2016, with romance fraud still the most common type of scam despite a 34 per cent drop in victim numbers.  

377 victims reported losing $10,057,015 to scams overall in 2016, with $4.1 million lost to relationship fraud.scamsreview2016

While most scam categories have seen a drop in both victims and losses, there are two categories that have seen huge increases in losses which is a cause for concern.  Technology scams have seen a 17 per cent increase in victim numbers while the losses have almost tripled.

Scammers contact their victims usually by phone and pretend to be from a well-known telecommunications company such as Telstra, saying their computer has been hacked.

The other area of concern is the doubling of losses from investment scams to $2.6 million in 2016, even though there has been a slight drop in the number of victims in this category.

Read the full 2016 Scam Review report.

2015 Report - Cost of scams for WA victims halved in 2015

The number of West Australians falling victim to scams has dropped dramatically, with financial losses almost halving in 2015 compared to the previous year. Scam-Review-15-fp

A total of 456 victims reported losing $9.8 million to scams in 2015, compared to 657 victims losing $16.8 million in 2014, a 42 per cent decrease in losses. 

Despite the overall reduction in scam losses, other categories of scams went against the trend and increased in 2015, including:

  • accommodation scams, where bogus online advertisements trick prospective tenants or holidaymakers to make payments to scammers instead of the real owners
  • rebate and refund scams, as well as beneficiary and employment scams
  • tax debt scams where scammers leave a disturbing recorded message or make phone calls threatening to take legal action if the consumer did not pay a bogus tax debt.

Read the full 2015 Scam Review report.