The national consumer watchdog has revealed that Australian citizens have lost $4.4 million to scammers trying to gain access to their computers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) noticed an increase in scams impersonating well-known brands or the police in order to steal money or banking information.
ACCC’s Scamwatch website has recorded a significant spike in remote access scams with more than 8,000 reports recorded in 2018 so far and losses totalling $4.4 million.
“The spike in remote access scams is very concerning; losses so far in 2018 have already surpassed those for the whole of 2017, and sadly it is older Australians that are losing the most money,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
According to the ACCC, scammers will impersonate companies such as Telstra, NBN Co or Microsoft, as well as the police trying to convince citizens to give scammers access to their computers through software including TeamViewer.
They do that by saying the person's computer has been compromised and is being used to send scam messages.
“The scammers are becoming more sophisticated," Rickard added. "The old trick scammers used to use was to call people and say there was a virus on their computer that needed fixing but, in a new twist, scammers are now telling people they need their help to catch hackers."
According to the ACCC, the scammer will then pretend to deposit money into their victim’s account. In reality the scammer just shuffles money between the victim’s accounts, which gives the illusion of money being deposited.
The money is then sent out of the victim’s account as part of the con to ‘catch a scammer’, straight to the scammer’s own bank accounts, the consumer watchdog explained.
Meanwhile, the functions of Australia's cyber security have been rolled into the Department of Home Affairs.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has appointed his new cabinet on Sunday 26 August without naming a minister for cyber security.
Morrison, who was sworn Australia's Prime Minister on 24 August, decided to roll the cyber security functions into the Department of Home Affairs instead of appoint a replacement to Angus Taylor who resigned on 23 August.