‘Spoofing scam’ warning as caller ID won’t protect you from fraudsters

Before answering our mobiles, we often check caller ID to make sure whoever is on the other end is someone we can trust.

Whether it's our loved ones, bank, work or even a restaurant we have booked, caller ID is our way of knowing whether the call is worth taking.

But now fraudsters are taking full advantage of this by changing their number and name to impersonate trusted contacts and trick victims into answering.

Commonly known as 'spoofing', the number of reported cases almost doubled to a whopping 40,000 last year, a new report by industry body UK Finance suggests.

But the real figure is thought to be far higher due to victims not reported fraud because they feel guilty or embarrassed.

Some victims are understood to have been swindled out of tens of thousands of pounds.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has now warned mobile users not to trust caller ID before answering.

"This problem is global in its scope," Ofcom director Huw Saunders told Radio 4's Money Box.

"It's an unfortunate place to be in, but the same message is being given by our counterparts in the US, Canada, France, Australia and elsewhere."

But he admitted the UK is lagging behind some countries, including the US, when it comes to combating the issue.

"They [the US] are ahead of the UK, but that's not an issue that can be solved overnight.

"It's going to take a few years. If you look at a comparable situation in France, for example, they now have a timetable for the implementation of a particular technical solution and that is over a three-year period."

Law student Ope Oladejo, 21, was conned out of nearly £2,000 – meant to pay for her course – last year in a spoofing scam.

"The number spoofing was the most important part [of the deception]," she told the BBC.

"At first I was a bit sceptical… but they said: 'Check the number [we're calling you on] on the back of your card'.

"I checked and it matched and that's when I let my guard down completely."

Scammers tricked Ope into believing she was speaking to her bank before she handed over information about her account, which enabled them to steal her money.

"Emotionally it just made me really sad, I just cried a lot about it," she said.

"Financially, I think it made me smarter."

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