Chairman at the London Fraud Forum and Head of Fraud & Forensics at PKF GM, Robert has seen fraud develop over a 30+ year period and he shared his thoughts with SEON’s CCO Jimmy Fong on the challenges we face post-pandemic.
How has the pandemic impacted fraud?
Sadly, I don’t think any of us can ignore what an impact it’s had geographically, socially, and medically but from a fraud perspective, we’re still picking up the pieces and will be for a while. Whether it’s online, in-store, or even new markets that emerged over the pandemic, fraudsters have had a golden ticket essentially to try new methods to scam honest people and businesses.
In the UK alone, there’s been bounceback loan fraud with fake shell companies being set up to access these funds, furlough fraud, with both businesses and people lying about their working conditions such as the Brewster Recruitment case.
What can be done to bring the fight against fraud back into our favor?
How can we fight it, what can we do together? We have to communicate better across industries. We can’t expect to arrest our way out of this epidemic. Many businesses are looking at the police but how can we expect to pinpoint every single dishonest customer or fraudster?
The tsunami of fraud that’s hit our streets has only gotten worse as more people are sitting at home looking at alternative ways of generating income. We need to take responsibility ourselves, ensure that anybody handling sensitive information is clued up on best practices, and understand the risks of social engineering, phishing, every technique that we know as fraud professionals, criminals use.
How has identity fraud developed over the years?
It’s amazing in a how identity fraud has come on and the lengths to which people will go to in order to defraud you. It’s all about data. That’s all the criminals are interested in now, ultimately the darknet is a place where even if you don’t fancy committing the act itself, you can find what is essentially a loyal customer if you can feed them solid data. The days of the older generation being scammed by someone on the end of the phone are long gone.
Robert then shared a personal story to emphasize the organized nature of a fraud ring.
A person that I know responded to an advertisement on Linkedin for a job that was through an agency during the pandemic. They asked her for a telephone interview and passed through to the second stage, a zoom call. Passed that and onto a third stage interview which was one-to-one interview in a coffee shop. Sounds like a completely legitimate advertisement, right?
After the third interview, she gets a congratulatory email along with a contract, obviously requesting more personal details to prove the right to work, bank account details to get paid etc.
Never heard a word from the once submitted. No position, the agency didn’t exist, the company was genuine however they socially engineered her into believing it was an honest job advert to take all of her details. They now have a complete profile to work with.”