Victorians have lost more than $4m to scams in less than five months, as scammers become more savvy at stealing personal data over the phone.
Police have received more than 150 reports of remote access scams – totalling $4.18m in theft – since July this year.
“Remote access scams are one of the fastest-growing scam types in Australia,” Detective Sergeant John Cheyne said.
Victims typically receive an unexpected call from someone pretending to be an employee of companies like Amazon, Apple or major banks.
Police have noticed some common themes in the scammers’ calls.
These are some of the lines used to rope victims into sharing their data.
1. You’ve been charged for a purchase you didn’t make
2. Something is wrong with your computer or internet connection
3. Malware has been installed on one or more of your devices
How to tell if you’re being scammed
Scammers will typically contact victims via a cold phone call.
They might ask for remote access to your computer or ask you to share passwords, security codes, PINs or other personal information.
They will often pose as well-known organisations or financial institutions.
“The scammers will often sound professional and knowledgeable, and they play on people’s fears of fraud and cybercrime,” Sergeant Cheyne said.
“They are designed to trick people into quickly handing over their money or personal information.”
The scammer might ask to “find out what the problem is”, “fix an issue” or to login to the victim’s internet banking to check no funds have been stolen or to refund the fraudulent payment.
They may tell the victim to download remote control software such as AnyDesk, TeamViewer or Zoho Assist.
Once remote access is established on a device, scammers have almost unlimited access to personal information such as passwords or banking details and can install malware such as keyloggers that capture login or banking details.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
If you’re unsure whether the call is a scammer or not, first hang up the phone.
Then call the company back using the contact numbers provided on their website to validate if the request is real.
If you believe you have been scammed, you can contact police or report it online at ReportCyber or ScamWatch.
Anyone with knowledge of these incidents and those responsible is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppers.com.au.