ACCC warns of new scams with people impersonating police

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Scammers are increasingly catching out people by impersonating well-known businesses or the police, so they can access computers and steal money or banking information. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch website has recorded a significant spike in these types of scams, known as remote access scams, with more than 8000 reports recorded in 2018 so far and losses totalling $4.4 million. 

These scams particularly target older Australians, said ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.

“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,” Ms Rickard said.

Scammers will impersonate a well-known company, most commonly Telstra, NBN or Microsoft, or even the police, and spin you a very credible and believable story about why they need to access your computer using software such as TeamViewer.

“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,” Ms Rickard said.

The scammers claim they are tracking the ‘scammers’ or ‘hackers’ and tell the consumer that their computer has been compromised and is being used to send scam messages. This is where they say with the victim’s help, they can use the victim’s computer and online banking to trap the (fake) ‘scammer’.

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 (for example, from a person’s credit card account to a savings account), which gives the illusion of money being deposited. The money is then sent from the victim’s account straight to the scammer’s own bank accounts.

“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 said.

If a victim starts to doubt the situation, the scammer becomes threatening, stating that the victim will jeopardise the investigation if they refuse to help and may even face legal consequences.

These scams can be frightening when scammers become threatening and aggressive if they sense they are ‘losing’ the victim, or they are starting to cotton on. This is particularly concerning for older people who may not be as tech savvy.

“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,” Ms Rickard said.

“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.”

For more advice on how to avoid or report scams, visit Scamwatch.

Have you ever been taken in by a remote access scam? How did you rectify the situation?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 11
  1. 0

    so what is being done to catch these scammers ?? I seem to be getting roughly one of these calls every week or two and depending on my frame of mind at the time, either brush them off immediately or have some fun and lead them on a little.. On a couple of occasions, I have asked them to wait while I patch the call through to my “technical assistant” who works in the fraud department of the QLD police…One fairy tail deserves another.. for some reasion, that seems to terminate the call… BUT.. is there some department ACTUALLY trying to track these parasites down ?? If so, how can we assist ??

  2. 0

    Don’t accept any calls from any phone number you don’t recognise.
    Don’t open any messages from phone numbers or people you don’t know.
    I know it’s hard to not answer the call or open the message but just don’t.

  3. 0

    I have been getting several of these calls A DAY, sometimes, to the point where I have been screening the calls. It’s difficult, as a close friend has a private number and I don’t want to miss a call from her. She’s in aged care, doesn’t do email, and needs occasional chats. On the occasions when I do pick up the phone, if it’s not a genuine caller I quickly hang up. One young woman got so annoyed with me doing that, she kept ringing repeatedly and screaming at me for hanging up on me. Said she would keep ringing until I spoke to her. Well, that wouldn’t encourage me to talk to her, would it? But it is annoying if I have a genuine telco issue and am waiting for a call from them.

  4. 0

    6 calls for the so called Telstra mob in one day . Now I wait for them id themselves and blow a whistle into the phone . Calls seem to have dropped off lately . Wonder why ?

  5. 0

    A lot is being done to stop these scammers. I like to string them along for as long as possible for a laugh even record them as they get really wound up.
    The hacker group, Anonymous hack into their networks and close them down they also use a piece of software to bombard the number with calls. Then the number closes down.
    There are thousands of individuals in Europe USA and Australia who live to play with these scum and close them down. Their marymoor are reported to police all the time, sometimes they act to close them down.
    I suggest for some light entertainment you all go to YouTube and watch the hacker v scammer videos they are great lol.

  6. 0

    a friend of mine(male) lets them start, and then interrupts with ‘what are you wearing?” “I’m not wearing anything”..they put YOU on THEIR do not call list.

  7. 0

    Yes, had a call last week, he said he worked for Telstra and that he needed to sort a problem found in my PC. I told him my neighbour worked for Telstra and that he would fix it for me. I won’t type what he called me but I’m 75 and not ready to fizzle my brain out just yet.

  8. 0

    I just block the phone numbers, that goes for electricity offers, insurance offers and others. One lady ran back when I hung up after saying several times I only just changed my electricity company and was not ready to do anything but she still wanted to pressure me. Then I blocked the number. Recently I found they are starting to use private numbers.

  9. 0

    We now have a whistle beside the phone and my husband (ex Telstra technician) answered the phone the other day saying “Police Dept” to one of the scambugs, who strangely rang off rather quickly. What I want to know is what are the phone calls that just hang up as soon as you answer? I can’t wait to use the whistle but so far have not had any victims to practise on. They must be psychic. They usually call around teatime.



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