Screen-sharing scams cost victims £25m, watchdog claims

Cases of screen sharing scams have risen, with one victim losing more than £48,000, the city regulator has warned. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

The story of a woman who lost £48,000 when scammers used screen-sharing software to trick her is one of thousands of cases that have prompted watchdog FCA to launch a campaign to fight against the scam.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said more than £25million was lost to these scams between January 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, with victims aged between 18 and over 70.

Data from the watchdog shows that almost half (47%) of investors would fail to identify a screen sharing scam. This tactic is becoming increasingly common, with the FCA recording an 86% increase in cases in one year, to 2,014 cases.

Angela Underhill, 59, clicked on an advertisement for bitcoin and received a call from people claiming to be financial advisors. Offering to make the first investment for her, they asked her to download the AnyDesk platform, which then gave scammers free access to all financial details on her computer.

She lost more than £48,000 as scammers accessed her bank details, pension and applied for loans in her name.

His case is one of thousands the FCA has received on its consumer helpline.

Read more: FCA flags weak crime controls at challenger banks

Just 51% of potential investors would check whether a company appears on their ‘warning list’ when deciding whether an investment opportunity is legitimate in an FCA survey of 2,000 people.

Although older respondents admitted to needing more help with technology, younger investors are not immune – a quarter (26%) of 18-34 year olds would agree to share their online banking or investment portal with someone they haven’t met.

While 88% said they would check if their investments were offered or sold by FCA companies, only 10% of these people would always trust their instincts with an investment opportunity from someone they don’t know. without performing the proper checks, such as ensuring that the business or financial promotion is properly authorized.

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Surveillance at the FCA, said: “Investment scams can happen over months, but sharing your screen without doing the proper checks can change everything in one. instant. Once crooks gain access to your screen, they have full control.

“That means access to your sensitive banking and investment information, the freedom to browse as they please, and the ability to take any details they want. This can affect any investor, regardless of experience.

“It’s incredibly difficult to recover money once lost in this way, but there are ways to protect yourself: don’t share your screen with anyone, as legitimate companies won’t ask you to do so, and check out our Scamsmart website for advice on how to avoid being scammed.

Read more: FCA creates 80 new positions to crack down on dishonest companies

The FCA is launching its latest ScamSmart campaign aimed at raising awareness of increasingly sophisticated investment scam tactics. He urges investors to review the advice on his Scamsmart website, including reviewing the warning list before making any investment decisions.

Here are three tips from the FCA to avoid getting scammed:

Check the Scamsmart website and the FCA warning list

This will help you avoid being scammed and will tell you if the company you are dealing with is registered or known to be suspicious.

Are you being asked to upload something new?

Your bank will never need to access your screen to see your information, so someone asking you to do so is a clear warning sign.

Have you moved away from your banking or investing platform?

Anything that takes you away from your banking or investing app, and through a search engine, increases the risk of coming across a fraudulent number or link.

If someone does business with an unauthorized company, they will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.

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