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Voice phishing now targeting even high-ranking gov`t officials

Voice phishing now targeting even high-ranking gov`t officials

Posted June. 27, 2012 00:59,   

Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00


A week ago, a high-ranking official of the Financial Services Commission received a heart-sinking call.

The man on the phone said, "I kidnapped your son from a private academic institute. He`s bleeding from a head wound. Send me 10 million won (8,632 U.S. dollars) immediately or he dies."

The official soon found out that his son was safe at the institute, but was still seized with fear. "The man knew my exact name, what I do for living, and when my son attends afterschool classes," he said. "For God`s sake, I`m an high-ranking official at a financial authority and still panicked. It was a good chance for me to feel how others can suffer mental turmoil due to phishing attacks."

Voice phishing is getting more sophisticated and the number of victims is on the rise. According to the Financial Supervisory Service and the National Police Agency Tuesday, 3,117 voice phishing cases were reported in the first five months of this year, up 14 percent from 2,734 a year earlier. The amount of losses reached 34.2 billion won (29.52 million dollars), up 156 percent from 29.4 billion won (25.38 million dollars) last year.

Kidnapping scams accounted for 27.4 percent of all voice phishing cases, impersonation of investigative agencies 27 percent, and cases using the financial watchdog 15.1 percent. Scammers pretending to be with Korea Post and banks followed with 12.7 percent each.

The Financial Supervisory Service said a person who suspects voice phishing should call the National Police Agency`s 112 center or the call center of financial institutions to request suspension of payment to the scammer`s bank account, and apply for a refund of a suspended payment at a nearby bank.

The financial watchdog also said it operates a system that delays money withdrawal at automatic teller machines when more than 3 million won in cash is deposited.

A financial authority official said, "People are now aware that phone calls from a police station or public institution should be highly suspected of voice phishing. But it`s difficult to tell whether a child kidnapping call is fake and parents also tend to panic and choose to send money."

"When parents receive a threatening call saying their child has been kidnapped, they should respond as cautiously as possible."