The UK’s financial regulator is warning Internet users around the world about a new type of Internet scam: the screen-sharing scam.
Financial Conduct Authority alerts
It’s a new type of scam that’s spreading on the internet, one that’s being taken very seriously by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA ) in the UK; the screen sharing scam. And according to this British financial sector regulatory body, more than 29 million euros have been stolen since January 2021
A new type of scam
But what is the screen sharing scam? In fact, it is simply a new method increasingly used by scammers, which allows them to extract information and/or access to their bank account from users and then make a money transfer. Victims are usually contacted by phone, from social networks, or when they are looking for an investment opportunity, or contact information for a company online.
Once he makes contact with his victim, the scammer will try to gain his trust, and convince him that he can help him. He then manages to get him to download legitimate video conferencing and screen sharing software from his mobile or computer, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, TeamViewer or AnyDesk. Then, as soon as the victim allows him to take control of his screen, the scammer can proceed with the scam. Once this step is completed, he can access all the personal information he needs.
56,000 euros gone
This is what happened to Angela Underhill, a 59-year-old British woman. After clicking on an advertisement for one promoting bitcoin, she received a call from a person claiming to be a financial advisor. The scammer was able to persuade her to install the screen-sharing application AnyDesk on her computer, which gave him free access to the financial data stored on her computer. In the end, she lost 48,000 pounds (56,000 euros!), but also her pension. In addition, the crooks behind the stunt managed to run up the bill by taking out loans in his name.
In short, these scammers take advantage of the rise of remote platforms and other video conferencing tools to trap as many victims as possible. But asking for an unannounced contact with a request to share a screen should sound a warning: these are warning signs of a potential scam.
These scams are on the rise
And according to the CFA, these scams have become increasingly important in recent months. In fact, approximately 2,100 cases have been reported to the institution since July 2020. The CFA also saw an 86% increase in these scams: the figure reached 683 between July and December 2021, compared to 367 for the same period the previous year.
And these scams can be difficult to detect. “ Screen-sharing scams are often incredibly sophisticated and, as the FCA rightly recognizes, even the most experienced investors can be taken in by these scammers ,” testified Rocio Concha, from the British consumer organization Which ?to the BBC .
“ If you have shared your screen with a scammer, try to regain control of your device by using the logout button, allowing you to end the session,” he advises. As a precaution, you may want to disable wifi or unplug the network cable to completely disconnect from any external connection. “
“Investment scams can happen over months, but sharing your screen without doing the necessary checks can change everything in an instant,” says Mark Steward, FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market surveillance. Once scammers have access to your screen, they have complete control. That means they have access to your sensitive banking and investment information, they are free to browse as they please, and they can take any details they want.”