Warning as fraudsters impersonate bosses in work-based cyber crime

File photo dated 04/03/17 of a woman's hands on a laptop keyboard. Around £28,000 is being lost ever

Fraudsters can assume identities of work-place bosses via video call and claim their audio and video isn’t working properly, Andy Atthowe explains - Credit: PA

A Norwich IT specialist is warning of a clever new type of fraud where criminals impersonate workplace bosses to steal from business bank accounts.

Andy Atthowe of S2 Computers explained how fraudsters assume identities via video call by claiming their audio and video isn’t working properly, so all you see is their initials or profile pictures.

By using chat functions on calls via platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, opportunists can instruct employees to undertake certain tasks - like moving money around - for their own gain by mimicking a person in authority.

"The reality is that this is a growing risk," he said, explaining that now video calls being the norm in the wake of the pandemic has lulled people into a false sense of security.

Andy Atthowe, director and founder of S2 Computers

Andy Atthowe, director and founder of S2 Computers - Credit: S2 Computers

"Moving conversations onto a video platform is very smart. Psychologically, most people would believe it was their boss who was connected. And audio-visual issues can be common on calls.

"That's why these things work. If there's an element of trust involved in it, you naturally don't question things that naturally you otherwise would.

"A lot of cyber incidents occur these days. It's an ever-evolving and changing world we live in.

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"Covid has naturally accelerated these types of crimes forward because we're all relying on technology even more than we did before, and with that comes extra or new risks that maybe people aren't as conscious of.

"It's not exactly a prevalent thing, but it does happen."

S2 Computers, which has looked after predominantly Norfolk and Suffolk-based businesses for 20 years, has noticed a trend that crimes on this scale usually occur in larger business hubs across the country before trickling into towns and smaller cities like Norwich. 

Mr Atthowe added: "A big city like London or Manchester sometimes see these types of crime happen first, but what that usually means is that the rest of the UK will eventually see it.

"It's difficult to tackle this crime, just because of the sheer scale of it. It largely comes down to a lack of education and understanding on the business side, and a lack of resources on the law enforcement side."