Online scam 'explosion' targeting Coast victims
RESIDENTS have been warned to stay vigilant against a burgeoning minefield of remote access scams, after a Sunshine Coast victim lost thousands of dollars.
Remote access scams involve victims being convinced to hand over access to their computer.
Scammers often claim there is a problem with the computer that requires buying new software to fix.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said the number of remote access had leapt this year.
"We're seeing an absolute explosion of it at the moment," Ms Rickard said.
Latest ACCC figures show in the first two months of the year, Australians had reported losing more than $250,000 to nearly nearly 1200 remote access scams.
A Sunshine Coast man lost $3000 to scammers last month after a caller with a foreign accent claimed his anti-virus program needed updating.
He granted access to his home computer, and the scammers soon emptied his transaction account.
The man's bank sent him a text message querying the withdrawal, but the caller said it was just the fee for the software.
The bank has refused to refund the amount because the victim approved the withdrawal.
Visa has a policy that enables refunds where a promised product has not been delivered, so the man is still hopeful he will see his money returned.
Ms Rickard said remote access scams were typically run overseas by organised crime groups.
A specific scam will usually only run for three to eleven days before the offenders move on to a new scam and server, making it almost impossible for authorities to apprehend the culprits.
Instead the ACCC focuses its efforts on warning people about remote access scams.
"I think they're particularly prevalent at the moment; scams seem to go through phases," Ms Rickard said.
She said scammers were moving from cold-calling victims to sending pop-up alerts.
"Of late, we've seen an explosion of these internet pop-ups which turn up, telling you that there's a problem with your computer, telling you it's got a malicious, pornographic (virus).
"I think people get very concerned when they see things like that popping up on their computer.
"Less tech-savvy people think that it may be real.
"Never, ever give anyone remote access to your computer, and never ever give anybody the details to access your bank account, that's the number one warning."
"If you have, let your bank know straight away."
More information about scams is available at scamwatch.gov.au