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Can machine learning save you from scammers? Posted on Nov 03 - 2018

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Scammers may be tricking vast numbers of unsuspecting customers into giving up their personal details so that fraudulent transactions can take place – but these crafty thieves may have met their match in machine learning.

Vishers, phishers and smishers belong to a category of criminals called social engineering fraudsters, meaning they trick their victim into either disclosing confidential financial details or transferring money to a criminal.

In South Africa, data released by the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) earlier this year revealed that more than half (55%) of the gross losses due to crime reported were from incidents that had occurred online.

Phishers, smishers, vishers – what next?

Phishers typically try to get personal details via email, smishers try their luck by sms, and vishers are best known for their telephonic skills.

Dr Scott Zoldi, chief analytics officer at analytic software firm FICO, says vishing is an especially great risk around tax season.

"Phone call social engineering fraud – known as vishing – has gained in popularity of late, and relies on the fraudster’s powers of persuasion in conversation with their victim," he says.

"This type of SEF spikes around tax season when fraudsters claim to be the South African Revenues (SARS), and use spoofing to make the calls appear as if they originate from official phone numbers."

Victims may be told they will go to jail if they don't make a payment, or that a refund is due – but their bank details are needed in order to get it.

And, says Zoldi, as security settings advance and real-time payment schemes such as online banking transfers or banking transfers become easier, scammers are favouring tricking their victims into depositing the money themselves (authorised push payment scams) rather than stealing the money through compromised account authentication (unauthorised push payment transactions). View More

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