Screen-sharing Scams on the rise, Watchdog warns 

 April 29, 2022

The FCA expressed the number of screen-sharing scams had risen 86% to 683 in the six months from July to December 2021, corresponding with 367 for the same period the year before.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warns people to beware of people posing as investment advisers and contributing to help them set up new schemes thru online meeting platforms.

They request their victim to share the screen and enable remote access, which hands over control of their device and their bank account.

About 2,100 cases have been registered to the FCA since July 2020. More than £25m was looted in the 15 months from January 2021.

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Screen-sharing has become a regular part of work life, as people use popular online meeting programs in their jobs.

Remote access software is a legitimate mechanism for services such as IT support to troubleshoot issues without being in the room.

But scammers are increasingly commandeering this familiarity to entice victims into granting access to more than just a photo of their screen.

They are then convinced to grant the fraudster control of their computer by either expanding permissions or to download remote access software, giving them direct access to online bank accounts. It also means they can install their malware, giving them full admission at any time.

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The criminals do this under cover of being helpful – proposing to set up a new investment scheme and scan it.

One scam victim, who desired to remain anonymous, states she lost thousands of pounds to scammers after attempting to find new investments to increase her savings.

She was called by a legitimate investment company in spring 2021 and told she could notice a sizeable return on an initial £250 asset by downloading remote entry software and allowing the firm to do the rest.

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“They didn’t state [the software] was anything other than an investment tool, so I had no belief what it would do,” she said.

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Over six months, the woman was inspired to make more investments – expressing graphs and information from scammers caught her “blinded by science” and concluded that her assets were paying off.

The scammers had exhausted her pension fund by £48,000 and taken out an additional £40,000 of loans in her name.

“I didn’t know what was transpiring until it was all gone,” she states.

Mark Steward, administrative director of enforcement at the FCA, stated: “Investment scams can transpire over many months, but sharing your screen without creating the proper checks can change everything instantly.”

If scammers acquire control of your computer, it gives them “access to your sensitive banking and investment information, the liberty to browse at their leisure, and the capacity to take whatever details they want,” Mr. Steward counts.

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The FCA’s ScamSmart website has different advice. Rocio Concha, chairperson of policy and advocacy at customer watchdog Which?, said: “Screen-sharing scams are often extraordinarily sophisticated and, as the FCA rightly recognizes, even the most experienced investors can be brought in by these fraudsters.

If you have shared the screen with a trickster, try to seize control of your device by employing the disconnect button, allowing you to end the session. As a precaution, you can switch off wi-fi at the router or unplug the network cable to disconnect from any external connection fully.

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