September 19, 2023 08:30
Voice phishing scams increasingly target teenagers and 20-somethings, putting paid to the belief that their main targets are old gullible people who have some money.
According to the Financial Supervisory Service, the money teens and 20-somethings lost in phishing scams in the first half of this year amounted to W11 billion, or 13.3 percent of the entire W82.7 billion lost by people in all age groups (US$1=W1,324).
This figure is nearly triple the W3.5 billion young people lost in the same period last year, when their proportion was only 5.4 percent.
The number of scams young people fell prey to also nearly tripled from 384 to 1,089 over the same period.
The trend means teens and 20-somethings overtook 30-somethings as the most targeted victims for the first time last year and 40-somethings this year, becoming the third largest group of scam victims after the over-60s (38 percent) and 50-somethings (29 percent).
The increase in young scam victims is attributed to changing tactics. Until a few years ago, scammers targeted only rich middle-aged and older adults and spent more than a week trying to deceive each of them. They typically dupe victims into taking out a loan from a bank and wiring it to a fake bank account.
But these days, scammers are more likely to be caught because banks and other financial institutions have beefed up their phishing detection system, so they strike faster.
That means phishing for smaller amounts of money that can be extracted fast, which brought younger people into their sights. The amount of money lost per scam almost halved from W9.1 million in 2020 to W5.07 million in 2022. But young people are also more easily intimidated if scammers pose as prosecutors or FSS officials.
A police investigator said, "If you've paid money in a shady place like a brothel, you're more easily intimidated by a scammer who threatens to look into your bank account."
"Voice phishing scams are now evolving so that anybody, young and old, can fall easy prey to them," said Minjoo Party lawmaker Yoo Dong-soo of the National Assembly Finance Committee. "The government should work out effective preventive measures to deal with them."
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