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Calls to Cyber and Fraud Centre Helpline More Than Doubled Last Year

A dramatic increase in calls to a Scots helpline supporting cyber-crime victims has been seen in the last year.

The Cyber and Fraud Centre Incident Response Helpline, a collaboration between leading Scottish cybersecurity organisation the Cyber and Fraud Centre – Scotland, Police Scotland, and the Scottish Government – with technical and legal incident response support from various Scottish companies – provides expert advice to help affected organisations mitigate the effects of a cyber-attack.

Statistics show that the number of calls received by the helpline has more than doubled, from 123 calls in 2022/23 to 263 in 2023/24. This is expected to grow even further over the next year.

The figures also highlight a rise in ransomware attacks, with Black Basta, Lockbit and Akira amongst the most common ransomware programmes being reported to the helpline.

Cyber-enabled fraud is also on the rise, with the collaborative Fraud Triage Hub having worked on a total of £26 million in fraudulently obtained money over the past year, of which £16.2 million was ultimately stopped or returned.

The Fraud Triage Hub was trialled by Cyber and Fraud Centre – Scotland alongside partners including Police Scotland, the City of London Police, and banks such as Barclays, Natwest, and Lloyds.

Established with the aim of sharing intelligence, disrupting criminal gang activity, delivering support to victims, and recovering stolen funds, the Hub has worked on 153 cases of cyber-enabled fraud over the past year.

Amongst the most common types of fraud dealt with in these cases were investment fraud, business email compromise (BEC), crypto investment fraud, impersonation scams, and redirection/safe account scams.

The Fraud Triage Hub played a key role in gathering evidence which enabled the arrests of seven people involved in the high-profile case of an elderly woman who was defrauded to the tune of a seven-figure sum last summer.

Jude McCorry, CEO of the Cyber and Fraud Centre – Scotland, said: “These figures for both cyber and cyber-enabled crime are staggering – and we must remind ourselves that these are only the reported statistics.

“There will be many more instances of these crimes that we are not aware of. Ransomware attacks have been ramping up over the last month and we think we will see that trend continue to grow over the coming months.

“We have also seen a huge increase in cyber-enabled crime. During the first six months of the Fraud Triage Hub trial, we worked collectively with our partners on retrieving £10m of fraudulently obtained money.

“When the trial ended we continued supporting victims, alongside our partners, and have worked on a further £16.2m worth of fraudulently obtained money, with a huge amount of £7.5m in December alone.

“We are meeting with government ministers in both the UK and Scotland, along with financial services, to both highlight this issue and the lack of resourcing available in Scotland for continuing this important work, and to look at innovative ways of using proceeds of cyber-crime and dormant accounts.

“We want to be able to work with Police Scotland and other law enforcement agencies to take down these criminal gangs before they can cause harm to the businesses and citizens of this country.”

Assistant chief constable Andy Freeburn also commented: “Police Scotland continues to see significant dividends through working in partnership to tackle cyber-crime and harms.

“We are delighted to work collaboratively with the Cyber and Fraud Centre and have focused our collective efforts against those who attempt to scam and defraud the people of Scotland online.

“These figures demonstrate this commitment and we will continue to work hard to make Scotland as safe as possible from cyber criminals.”

Source: DIGIT

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