A team of scammers sneakily filmed dozens of Australians by remotely accessing their webcams, then uploaded those videos onto YouTube, according to Australian news outlet ABC.
The victims were reportedly lured in through a false tech support operation. One victim, Geoff Sussman, told ABC he looked online for a service that could help him download Adobe software. He says he was duped by a fake Adobe support page claiming to provide “Support for Adobe Australia,” and called a 1-800 number on the site. The number led him to an operation called Macpatchers, which told him he had a virus and asked him to download software to give them remote access to his computer.
This is a common scam technique, but Macpatchers seems to have taken it a step farther and asked him to read a script that appeared on the screen, claiming he was pleased with the service. Unbeknownst to him, Macpatchers were accessing his camera, and recorded the statement. The group then reportedly uploaded the video to YouTube along with the videos of 68 other victims—a chorus of fake testimonials recommending the service.
A man who describes himself as a “scam-baiter” uncovered the operation and shared his finding with ABC. He told ABC that Macpatchers recommended he check out their reviews. “You can check the reviews of Macpatchers, if you have any doubt,” the Macpatchers operator reportedly told the scam-baiter. “You can see that many appear to be genuinely happy with MacPatchers.”
ABC spoke with several victims, who were shocked to find out they had been recorded. The news outlet was not able to contact Macpatchers.
Sussman was ultimately able to cancel a $1,590 AUS ($2,076 USD) transfer to Macpatchers, but the video added insult to injury. “It makes you feel used by these people, that they’re violating your privacy,” he told ABC. “I had no idea I was being filmed, and I certainly had no idea they were using me to promote themselves.”
According to ABC, some of the videos showed victims’ children and some showed victims in their bedrooms. One video reportedly showed a man sitting without a shirt on.