SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) — Phishing scams involving instant messages in South Korea spiked in 2021 due to increased not-in-person activities amid the coronavirus pandemic, data showed Tuesday.
The amount of damages from messenger phishing came to 99.1 billion won (US$80.3 million) last year, up 166 percent from the previous year, according to the data from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).
The figure accounted for nearly 59 percent of last year’s total damages of 168.2 billion won resulting from phishing.
Phishing is a process in which victims are conned into sharing their personal passwords or security codes via phone calls, messages or emails, allowing fraudsters to access their bank accounts.
“Messenger phishing scams rose sharply last year from the previous year in the wake of increased contact-free activities amid the COVID-19 outbreak,” the financial regulator said.
Yet damages from overall phishing scams sank 28.5 percent on-year, with the number of victims dipping 27.7 percent to 13,204.
People in their 40s and 50s were found to be the most vulnerable with their damages reaching 87.3 billion won, followed by those in their 60s and older with 61.4 billion won.
In collaboration with local financial institutions, the FSS has been ramping up efforts to crack down on such financial scams, including a campaign to raise public awareness.