Increase of online scams during COVID-19

New data has revealed an alarming spike in ‘sextortion’ scams and image-based abuse during COVID-19.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has recorded an increase of up to 300 per cent in some areas of internet harm, including social ‘sextortion’. The spike largely relates to a new scam, which threatens to release intimate videos captured on webcams unless a payment is made.

As Ministers, we believe online safety is vital – particularly now – as Australians continue to learn, work and socialise online. We would encourage everyone to view the guidance by the eSafety Commissioner.

Anyone can be the target of these scams – women, men and children. The eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman-Grant, has provided advice on what to do if you fall victim to image-based abuse or face threats of intimate images being shared. Guidance can be found at esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse and on eSafety’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. Information and tips about common scams are also available from www.Scamwatch.gov.au.

The Government is focused on keeping Australians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic - whether it be online, in their communities, or in the home. However, for many women and children home is not a safe place to be. That’s why the Government announced in March a $150 million COVID-19 Domestic and Family Violence Support Package to help people experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence.

If you or someone you know is experiencing, or is at risk of family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault, they can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or via the website for online counselling and web chat 24 hours a day. Men can contact MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or via their website for round the clock counselling. If a person is in immediate danger, they should dial 000.

Media contacts:

Minister Fletcher

Brad Hatch: 0448 162 679

Rebecca Papillo: 0439 892 771

Minister Payne

David Wroe: 0429 531 143

Melanie Ruiz: 0427 888 392