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Callers impersonate government officials in 8 out of 10 phone scams

This illustrated image depicts voice phishing. (Yonhap)
This illustrated image depicts voice phishing. (Yonhap)
Recent data shows that 8 out of 10 communication fraud reports filed with the financial authorities this year concerned criminals impersonating government officials.

A report published by Rep. Min Hyung-bae on Oct. 7 revealed that voice phishing cases in which criminals falsely offer to lend money to their victims are becoming less common, with the figure dropping every year.

In contrast, impersonation of government officials has increased in recent years, accounting for 11,732 of the 14,065 cases in the analysis -- 83.4 percent of the total.

There were 7,712 such cases, or 15.47 percent of all phone scams reported, in 2017; 15,211, or 21.7 percent of the total, in 2018; 16,272, or 22.4 percent of the total, in 2019; and 11,173, or 43.2 percent, in 2020.

The large numbers of text messages sent by the government during the pandemic are thought to have made the fraudulent messages seem more believable.

People frequently receive text messages about COVID-19 relief funds these days.

“Impersonating government officials has become the most common type of phone scam since the number of text messages from the government has rapidly increased during the COVID-19 crisis,” the lawmaker said. He emphasized the need for meticulous supervision to prevent phone scams, warning that people should question the authenticity of text messages purportedly sent by the government.

By Kim Ye-rin (kyl8706@heraldcorp.com)
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