4500.0 - Crime and Justice News, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/08/2008   
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Nearly $1 billion dollars lost to Personal Fraud in Australia

On June 27 2008, the ABS released Personal Fraud, 2007 (cat. no. 4528.0). This publication presents a summary of findings from the ABS Personal Fraud Survey conducted during July to December 2007. Personal fraud has been recognised as a crime type that is a growing threat to the community, as a result of the rapid expansion and availability of internet technology and the increase in electronic storage, transmission and sharing of data. This survey provides a national benchmark measure of the extent to which Australians were exposed to a range of personal frauds, whether they became a victim of a selected range of personal frauds and whether they incurred any financial loss as a result of being victimised.

A total of 806,000 Australians aged 15 years and over were victims of at least one incident of personal fraud in the 12 months prior to interview. This equated to a victimisation rate for personal fraud of 5% of the population aged 15 years and over. There were 453,100 victims who lost money in the 12 months prior to interview, incurring a combined financial loss of almost one billion dollars ($977 million). Of the victims who lost money to personal frauds, the median financial loss was $450 per person, while the mean loss was $2,156 per person.

In the twelve months prior to the survey, identity fraud accounted for 3% or nearly half a million (499,500) victims in Australia, while Identity theft accounted for 124,000 victims of identity fraud. These victims included those who experienced unauthorised use of their personal details, such as a drivers' licence, tax file number, or passport through fraudulent or forged identification documents, or unauthorised appropriation of their identity through any other means to conduct business, open accounts to take out loans illegally in their name.

Over 5.8 million Australians were exposed to a scam in the 12 months prior to the survey. This involved people receiving and viewing or reading an unsolicited invitation, request, notification or offer, designed to obtain their personal information or money or otherwise obtain a financial benefit by deceptive means. A successful scam requires an engagement or response from a person to an unsolicited invitation, request, notification or offer. Of those who had received a fraudulent invitation or request, 5.7% (or 329,000 people) became victims by responding to the scam by supplying personal information, money or both, or seeking more information. This equated to a victimisation rate of 2%.

Victims of selected scams (a)
Graph: Victims of selected scams (a)


Household crime continues to decline

Selected household crimes continued a declining trend in victimisation in 2007; motor vehicle theft (336 victims per 100,000 persons) had the lowest rate since national reporting began in 1993. In comparison, the rate in 2006 was 364 victims per 100,000 persons. The victimisation rate for other theft (2,342 victims per 100,000 persons) was the lowest since national reporting began for that offence in 1995. In comparison, the rate was 2,506 victims per 100,000 persons in 2006.

Compared to 2006, the number of victims recorded by Australian state and territory police agencies in 2007 decreased for manslaughter, murder, blackmail/extortion, motor vehicle theft, unlawful entry with intent and other theft. The offence categories recording the largest declines were manslaughter (down 28%) and murder (down 10%). Conversely, there was an increase in the number of victims of robbery (up 4%).

VICTIMS, Selected Offences(a), Percentage change in number - 2006 to 2007
Graph: VICTIMS, Selected Offences(a), Percentage change in number—2006 to 2007

For more information about recorded crime, refer to Recorded Crime, Victims - Australia (cat. no. 4510.0). This publication presents statistics on incidents of victimisation for a selected range of offences that came to the attention of police and were recorded by them in the period 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2007. These statistics provide indicators of the level and nature of recorded crime victimisation in Australia and a basis for measuring change over time. Experimental statistics on the Indigenous status of victims of recorded crimes are also presented for two states and territories. The next report is expected to be released in 2009.