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COVID's other epidemic-cybercrime

Young man hands holding credit card and using phone Source: Moment RF

Investment scams, romance scams, and the latest concern for police - billing scams- are impacting thousands of people stuck at home during the pandemic. The national competition regulator, the ACCC, says Australians lost 851 million dollars to scams last year.

According to the national regulator, investment scams made up more than third of losses - a total of 328 million dollars.

Romance scams were the next biggest category, costing 131 million dollars.

Dr Cassandra Cross from the Queensland University of Technology says it's exploitation on multiple levels.

"Fraud is all about financial gain using deceptive means and in these particular instances the offenders essentially take on the identities of legitimate businesses and individuals in order to exploit the trust between customers and suppliers. So, in most cases a victim is required to send an amount of money, usually to an offender."

False billing scams were another huge concern for authorities accumulating up 128 million dollars' worth of losses.

New South Wales police are investigating, after an alleged fake billing scam led to a Sydney couple losing around one million dollars. 

Ian Wright, detective inspector with New South Wales police says the incident allegedly occurred when the couple transferred the money to what they thought was their lawyer.

"That solicitor provided them with some updated bank account details for the payment, and of course they made a very large payment for the property settlement into that account and in this case that was unfortunate controlled by the offenders. Working with the banks we were able to recover and return some of the funds but unfortunately the majority of the money was lost. It's obvious a significant impact It's a lot of money, so they're feeling very upset about that obviously but I think in addition to the financial loss, there is the emotional side of it and from their own perspective knowing that their privacy has been compromised."

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