Money & Banking

Tue, 28 Aug, 2018Over60

Don't get caught out: Scammers steal $4.4 million from bank accounts

Don't get caught out: Scammers steal $4.4 million from bank accounts

A sophisticated scam where criminals access victims' bank accounts via their computer has netted $4.4 million from Australians in the eight months of 2018, according to Scamwatch.

More than 8000 victims have reported the “remote-access scam” to the ACCC.

The simple but deceptive scam works like this: criminals pretend to be from big companies such as Telstra, the NBN, Microsoft or even the police, and inform victims there is something wrong with their computer.

The scammer will then tell victims they need their help in catching the "scammer" or "hacker", and to grant them access to their computer remotely using software such as TeamViewer.

When access is granted, the scammer will pretend to deposit money into their victim's account to gain trust, but then siphon funds into criminal accounts.

If the victim becomes wary or concerned during the process, the scammer resorts to threatening tactics, telling victims they will "jeopardise the investigation" if they stop remote access or will be in breach of police orders.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said scammers are becoming more sophisticated, putting less tech-savvy and vulnerable Australians at risk.

"The scammers are becoming more sophisticated. 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," said Mr Rickard.

"Unfortunately there are many stories from people who give a scammer access to their computer and are then conned into giving access to online banking.

"Some are also tricked into providing iTunes gift card numbers over the phone to these scammers."

Ms Rickard stressed that people should never give out personal information on the phone.

"It’s vital that people remember they should never, ever, give an unsolicited caller access to your computer, and under no circumstances offer your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone," said Rickard.

"If you receive a phone call out of the blue about your computer and remote access is requested, it’s a scam 100 per cent of the time. Just hang up."