Brits open doors for tech-enabled fraudsters because they 'don't want to seem rude'

Impersonation scams and smishing rocket, say UK Finance and Which?

Brits are too polite to tell phone scammers to "get stuffed", "take a hike" or "sling yer 'ook" when they impersonate so-called "trusted organisations" such as banks.

That's according to the trade association UK Finance, which found that the number of "impersonation scam cases" more than doubled in the first half of 2021 to 33,115 – up from 14,947 during the same period last year.

The industry body reckons these particular frauds – whether by text, email, or voice calls – have duped "even the savviest" punters out of almost £200m over the last year or so and all because people "don't want to seem rude."

Its "Take Five" national campaign is designed to raise awareness amid warnings that fraudsters target people's emotional weaknesses to trick them.

The call for Brits to toughen up comes as consumer champion Which? warned its own research found that SMS phishing (smishing) attacks in the UK grew by nearly 700 per cent in the first half of 2021 compared to the previous six months.

It found that fake parcel delivery scams trump banking-related smishing frauds by a ratio of three to one. But it also reports that voicemail smishing – where scammers send an SMS pretending to have a link to a voicemail – is also on the rise.

In a statement, Rocio Concha, Which? director of Policy and Advocacy, warned smishing attempts "have risen dramatically – with fraudsters taking advantage of the pandemic to trick consumers into giving away personal details and transferring their hard-earned cash."

Unveiling a new SMS Best Practice guide for businesses – backed by organisations including Mobile UK, the trade association for the UK's mobile network operators, Concha said that businesses "must play their part to protect people from scams."

Last year, Three UK – a member of Mobile UK – was left red-faced after some customers received an SMS message urging them to click on an embedded shortlink to find out more about "smishing texts".

The advice included how to spot scams – and this belter of a top-tip, which read: "Don't click on any links… if you've received a suspicious message."

Last month, a London student was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court to 22 months in prison for sending scam text messages purporting to be from a range of organisations including Royal Mail, HMRC, banks and mobile phone providers.

UK Finance reported that Abdisalaam Dahir, 20, a computer science student from Enfield, North London, "pleaded guilty to committing fraud by false representation, for being in possession of articles for use in fraud, and money laundering offences."

The case – which heard how Dahir was involved in smishing campaigns to defraud the public out of over £185,000 – followed an investigation by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist City of London and Metropolitan police unit. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022