Cost of 'hacking' scams doubled in 2014

New ACCC report reveals increased losses from 'hacking' scams reported last year

A new report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission includes figures showing that in 2014 reported financial losses from scams involving hacking more than doubled.

The ACCC's sixth annual report on scam activity in Australia was released to coincide with National Fraud Week.

The Targeting Scams Report pegs at $2.25 million the reported losses in 2014 from 'hacking' related fraud reported to the watchdog.

It was the fifth most common category of scam reported to the organisation last year.

The ACCC defines the category as scams where the perpetrator seeks "to exploit the vulnerability of computer systems to search for information and data that can help [them] perpetuate some other fraud".

The actual cost is almost certainly greater, the ACCC says, due to the under-reporting of scams because of embarrassment or lack of awareness and the fragmented reporting of scams to law enforcement agencies.

The figure is a significant increase on 2013, where the ACCC figures show reported losses of related to hacking of $1.13 million. In 2014 reports to the ACCC included five incidents where the individual losses exceeded $100,000 each.

The increase comes despite an ACCC decision to excise from the category ransomware and malware related losses and losses due to remote access scam.

In total, in 2014 there were 4443 'hacking' reports to the ACCC.

The reported costs of phishing and ID theft involving phishing or spam emails in 2014 cost Australian victims $540,000 and $773,000, respectively.

There were $977,000 worth of losses related to malware and ransomware.

'Remote access' scams cost Australians $1.17 million according to the reports the ACCC received, the report states. The telephone-based scam involves conning a victim into allowing remote access to their PC. This typically leads to an attempt to convince them to buy anti-virus software to 'fix' their PC.

The cold-calling scam is sometimes known as the Windows Event Viewer or 'eventvwr' scam, after the Windows component used by callers, which sometimes say they're from a software vendor such as Microsoft, to convince victims that their PC is suffering from a virus infestation.

Over all there was a "high level of scams activity" in Australia, the ACCC said. There were 91,637 "scam-related contacts" received from consumers and businesses. In 2013 that figure was 91,927. Losses reported to the ACCC totalled $81.83 million, down 8 per cent on 2013.

The most costly scams in 2014 continued to be fairly low-tech: Dating and romance scams, followed by investment scams.

Losses from scams reported to the ACCC totalled 80 million in 2014.

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Tags fraudhackingmalwarescamsremote accessAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionWindows Event Viewer scamAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)National Fraud Week

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