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Korea introduces AI app that auto-detects ‘voice phishing’ scams

Starting this week, South Korea’s financial watchdog is rolling out an artificial intelligence app for mobile devices that automatically detects “voice phishing” scams – a crime that last year conned members of the public out of a combined 444 billion won ($391 million).

The Financial Supervisory Service, National Information Society Agency and the state-run Industrial Bank of Korea have co-developed an AI-based voice phishing detection app, which will start beta operations from Monday.

The app, named “IBK Phishing Stop,” is designed to fight voice phishing scams in Korea, which are becoming more sophisticated and intricate, causing more financial losses every year. For now, the app runs only on Android phones.


The goal of “IBK Phishing Stop” is to prevent voice phishing scams early on, so that people can detect and reject such deceptive moves before any financial transactions are made, the FSS said.

When the phishing detection app is installed on a smartphone, it will start automatically analyzing the phone calls that are received. If more than 80 percent of the phone call is perceived as being representative of a “voice phishing” call, an alert is sent.

The app’s AI software has been trained to detect select keywords, phrases and speech patterns that are common in voice phishing schemes, in order to identify fraudulent calls, according to the agency.

“From the traditional ‘government impersonation’ to ‘loan fraud,’ we expect the AI app to prevent various voice phishing crimes that are growing more sophisticated today, reducing related damages,” the FSS said in a press release.

Voice phishing is a crime in which fraudsters make phone calls to trick people into transferring money or revealing their personal and financial information. Fraudulent callers typically impersonate representatives from familiar companies and banks or a family member.

Last year’s total financial damage from voice phishing scams of 444 billion won marked an 82.7 percent rise from 243 billion won observed in 2017, according to tracking data released by the FSS in February.

A total of 48,743 voice phishing victims were reported in 2018, the data showed, suggesting an average of 134 people fall prey to criminal phone fraud daily in Korea.

The most common type of voice phishing scam was recommending low-interest loans to financially-strained citizens, and unlawfully reaping “transaction fees” in the process, the FSS said.

By Sohn Ji-young (