The Thai Bankers’ Association (TBA) says that fraudsters used an Android OS exploit to defraud victims out of over 500 million baht ($14.4 million) in 2022.
Yot Kimsawat, Head of TBA’s Payment System Office, told Pattaya Mail that online scams in Thailand have become increasingly sophisticated, leading to a dramatic rise in the number of victims and financial losses. That trend is expected to continue as criminals become more tech-savvy.
Fraudsters target Android accessibility
The scams are perpetrated using Android’s accessibility service, which helps people with disabilities use their phones.
Victims are tricked into installing a malicious application by clicking on a link in an SMS or Line message. The scammers then pose as representatives of a state or private agency to incentivize their victims into following their instructions.
By exploiting the accessibility service, the scammer is able to gain access to personal information and financial accounts of the victim. They can withdraw funds from bank accounts and access photos, emails, and other personal information stored on the phone.
As a first resort, Yot said that anyone who falls victim to such scams should shut down their phones immediately. If the phone cannot be turned off, they should remove the SIM card and turn off their Wi-Fi. Then, the victim should contact the banks whose apps are installed on their phone and file a police report.
Emergency decrees and public awareness
Thailand’s emergency decree on technology crimes prevention and suppression, once enforced, will help to provide a more rapid response to SMS and Line message scams, Yot said. Furthermore, the decree will allow banks to block access to suspected fraudulent accounts without the need to file an official police report.
Recently, Thailand Post and the Royal Thai Police have jointly launched an anti-scam campaign, distributing informational leaflets to households across the country.
Dhanant Subhadrabandhu, chief executive of Thailand Post, said that around 600-700 cases of cybercrime are recorded every day in the country.
“Some victims, for example, have been deceived into providing personal information, including credit card numbers, or asked to transfer cash to pay for an undelivered package or redemption of points for prizes,” he said to Bangkok Post.
The anti-scam campaign is aimed at raising public awareness and providing tips on how to protect themselves from internet and phone scams. The first batch of 1.5 million leaflets will be distributed to households and another 500,000 pamphlets will be delivered.
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