Published On: Tue, Apr 16th, 2024

Criminals using AI and deepfake technology to steal consumer details | Personal Finance | Finance

Criminals are escalating their use of social engineering and artificial intelligence (AI) to steal consumer details, according to fraud prevention body Cifas. The organisation has noted a rise in AI-enabled identity fraud, including sophisticated phishing scams and deepfake technology, amid growing cost-of-living pressures.

In its Fraudscape report, Cifas revealed that over 374,000 fraud cases were reported to the National Fraud Database (NFD) last year. Members managed to prevent £1.8 billion worth of fraud losses.

Identity theft was the most prevalent type of fraud, accounting for nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of incidents, with more than 237,000 cases recorded in 2023. Criminals have honed their social engineering tactics and continue to exploit cost-of-living pressures.

The report also highlighted an increased use of AI and data harvesting techniques to fraudulently open and misuse accounts, steal identities, and take over customer accounts. Personal bank accounts are particularly targeted by identity fraudsters, who may also use spoof voices to answer security questions.

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has over 700 members spanning various sectors such as banking, finance, insurance, telecoms, retail, and public services.

The organisation has flagged a worrying trend in facility takeover fraud, where fraudsters hijack accounts, with the telecommunications industry being particularly hard-hit.

According to Cifas, this surge is indicative of a shift in criminal tactics, as perpetrators now focus on infiltrating existing accounts to acquire new products or secure upgrades.

Additionally, there’s been an uptick in misuse of facility cases, especially involving loan products, suggesting that individuals may be obtaining these products with the intention of exploiting them.

Cifas’ comprehensive data reveals that the misuse of facilities spans multiple industries, underscoring the influence of the cost-of-living crisis and the lengths to which people will go to dodge payments or illicitly profit from purloined assets.

Stephen Dalton, the intelligence director at Cifas, commented on the severity of the situation: “As our latest data shows, the impact of fraud and financial crime on people, companies and the public sector continues at epidemic levels.”

He further highlighted the grim reality facing many: “Ongoing economic uncertainty and cost-of-living pressures provide a rich source of opportunity for criminals to exploit people at their most vulnerable. These circumstances may also be the catalyst for some individuals to commit fraud and supplement their income during difficult times.”

Mike Haley, chief executive of Cifas, has sounded the alarm on the evolving threat of fraud, stating: “Criminals are finding new and sophisticated ways to target consumers, such as through social media and AI and deepfake technology. We are committed to driving down these cases through the sharing of data and intelligence and building effective defences to prevent fraud.”

He further emphasised the need for a united front against fraud, adding: “To achieve our goal takes a huge multi-sector, collaborative effort. That means having effective cross-government leadership in response to fraud, enhancing victim support, providing critical counter-fraud insight to social media and big tech companies, and educating young people about the serious consequences of financial crime.”

Haley also highlighted ongoing efforts to combat fraudulent activities: “We continue to work closely with the fraud prevention industry and multiple sectors to stem the rising tide of fraud and financial crime.”

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