Brian thought “the man from Microsoft” was fixing his computer. Instead they stole his savings

Days after the call from “the man from Microsoft,” Brian realized he had been ripped off from his savings.

The articulate caller had called out of the blue, offered to fix a problem, took control of Brian’s computer, and withdrew $38,700 from the retiree’s online bank account, leaving $300 behind.

“It’s my entire savings,” said Brian, 76.

Stories like this are becoming more common, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reporting a record surge in scams last year, many of which targeted vulnerable elderly victims.

Scammers stole more than double the amount from Australians in 2021 than the year before, according to ACCC’s Targeting Scams report, released Monday.

The report collects data from the scam reporting portals Scamwatch (operated by the ACCC) and ReportCyber ​​(developed by the state and federal police and Australian security agencies), as well as major banks, money transfer companies and other government agencies.

Reported losses for all organizations totaled nearly $1.8 billion. Taking into account the estimated number of unreported scams, actual losses exceeded $2 billion, ACCC deputy chairman Delia Rickard said.

“Even our plus $2 billion figure still underestimates the amount lost,” she said.

“It’s a very scary number, and we know this year will be even worse.”

What’s behind the rise?

Losses from scams that offer bogus investment opportunities have more than doubled to $700 million by 2021, according to the ACCC report.

A major cause of this was the rise of cryptocurrency investment scams, which increased reported losses by 270 percent to $99 million.

A typical method involved scammers setting up fake investment and cryptocurrency trading platforms to steal money from people who want to invest in cryptocurrency.

This sometimes changed with romance scams so that the targets were introduced to the fake investment platforms through their love interest.

“As a result, we see so many people losing large sums of money.”

There was also a large increase in losses related to pyramid and ponzi scams, largely due to investment ponzi scam apps.

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