Scammers beware – there’s a CROC about to bite back


AUSTRALIA is one of the top five countries in the world targeted by cybercriminals and, according to the federal government’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), a staggering $33 billion was lost to cybercrime last financial year (ACSC annual cyber threat report, – July 2020-June 2021).

Caloundra-based national not-for-profit online identity and cyber scam service IDCARE is fighting back and has launched an outreach clinic to support people in the regions and raise awareness about protection from scammers.

Managing director and founder of IDCARE Dr David Lacey recently gave federal Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews and local Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace a tour of the mobile cyber support units which will deliver a regions-focused initiative called Cyber Resilience Outreach Clinics (CROC).

CROC vehicles will travel through regional and outback communities to alert vulnerable communities to the risks posed by online crime.

The clinics raise awareness of common types of scams, how to recognise warning signs, and useful tips and techniques to stay cyber safe.

The travelling roadshow also provides a safe forum for people who have been victims of scammers to tell their stories and receive support.

It is partly funded by a $6 million grant through the federal government’s Cyber Security Strategy and in partnership with Westpac, Meta (formerly Facebook) and NBN Co.

Dr Lacey said scammers had taken advantage of the opportunities the COVID crisis had presented.

“Demand for IDCARE’s services has increased by 43% in 2021,” Dr Lacey said.

“IDCARE has found Australians living in regional and remote communities experience nearly 40% more losses on average per (scam) event than their city counterparts.”

Mr Wallace said that the project would make a difference for ordinary Australians across the regions.

 “For years, IDCARE has been leading the way nationwide, helping hundreds of thousands of Australians all over the country to respond to the devastating effects of cybercrime,” he said.

“Now it is fantastic to see them taking that leadership on the road, reaching out to the regions and spreading the word in our most vulnerable communities.”

He said it would take the cyber-safety message to people in areas where scammers had caused financial and emotional harm.

Minister Andrews said support for victims of cybercrime was vital.

“I encourage all Australians to increase their awareness of cyber security threats and take action to secure themselves and their online data,” she said.

“Scams and cybercrime can affect any one of us anywhere as, unfortunately, too many people who live in rural and regional areas know too well.”

To find out more about IDCARE and its CROC initiative, go to www.idcare.org

Main image: Andrew Wallace and IDCARE’s Dr David Lacey (centre) with Minister Karen Andrews at the launch of CROC

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