Justice prevailed for the victims of worldwide social engineering scams as police from 76 countries worked together to arrest thousands of threat actors who had been involved in romance scams, telephone deception, compromised business email (BEC), and other scams.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that Americans lost over $547 million just in romance scams. This usually involves the victim being tricked into believing they have entered a romantic relationship with someone online, whereas in fact, their new love interest is working on them to gain enough trust to ask them for money at one point.
Bleepingcomputer.com reported that Interpol highlighted the case of ‘a Chinese national who had defrauded 24,000 victims out of $35,700,000 and a fake kidnap case that demanded a payment of $1,575,000 from the victim’s parents’.
It is shocking but important to note that financial damage is not the only consequence of many online scams. Interpol pointed out an increase in human trafficking on social media platforms, where people are drawn in by money-making job offers that lead to “forced labor, sexual slavery, or captivity in casinos or fishing vessels”.
How can you protect yourself from becoming a victim of social engineering?
- Nobody should ever be contacting you for passwords or personal information.
- Reject any offers of help or requests for help from contacts online.
- Do not click on links in text messages, emails or social media without fully verifying their legitimacy. Contact companies through their official channels to check.
- Only access secure websites.
- Set all your spam filters to HIGH.
- Secure your devices! This includes deploying antivirus software, firewalls, using a VPN, and implementing privacy settings and filters.
- Be aware of risks. Use common sense: if it looks too good to be true, ask yourself why.
Cyber risk management should be a priority for every security conscious company