Australians have lost almost twice as much money from computer takeover scams in 2021 compared to last year, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The agency said scammers have stolen more than $7.2 million from Australians this year, up 184 percent compared to the same period last year.
The ACCC’s Scamwatch service found some 6,500 Australians have reported phone calls from scammers trying to get users to install remote access software like AnyDesk or TeamViewer and gain access to a victim’s bank accounts and other services.
Some of the companies and organisations the scammers would spoof include Telstra, eBay, NBN Co, Amazon, banks, government organisations, police, and computer and IT support providers.
“Remote access scams are one of the largest growing scam types in Australia. Scammers take advantage of the digital world and the fear of fraud and cybercrime to access people’s devices and steal their money,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
“These types of scams target and impact all people and can be convincing. People aged 55 and older lost over $4.4 million, accounting for almost half of total losses. Young people reported losing on average $20,000 and eight Indigenous Australians, some in remote communities, lost a total of $38,000.”
The ACCC added it is working with the private sector to combat these scams, including telcos sharing information like suspected phone numbers being used by the scammers.
In the agency’s 2020 Targeting Scams report, which was released last year, Australians have lost at least $851 million to scams in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic as scammers took advantage of the crisis. The most losses were from investment scams, romance scams and payment redirection scams.