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Turning the Tide of Online Scams: Interview With Prof. Jorij Abraham, Global Anti-Scam Alliance

In preparation for the free webinar ‘Global State of Scams 2022’, we sat down with professor Jorij Abraham, Managing Director, Global Anti Scam Alliance, to discuss the current situation in the field of combating online criminals.

Prof. Jorij Abraham, Global Anti Scam Alliance

Professor Jorij Abraham has been a part of the international eCommerce community since 1997. From 2013–2017, he has been Director of Research & Advise at Thuiswinkel.org (the Dutch Ecommerce Association) and the European Ecommerce Association with 25.000+ members in 20 countries. He is now Managing Director of Global Anti-Scam Alliance, whose mission is to protect consumers from getting scammed. He is also e-commerce professor at the University of Applied Sciences, TIO.

Jorij, you have such vast experience in combating scams. But have you ever answered a scam email?

Yes, I think everybody falls for phishing or scam emails sometimes. We are all busy, all expecting DHL/FedEx packages to arrive, so a quick but wrong click is easily made.

Last year, you launched GASA. What is the idea behind it? How is it connected to your other projects like Scamadviser.com?

The Global Anti-Scam Alliance is a non-profit organization where we bring together governments, law enforcement, consumer protection organizations, financial authorities and commercial organizations to share insights on scams and define concrete solutions to turn the tide on scams.

ScamAdviser is one of these solutions. Its website has more than 4 million consumers every month checking if a website is legit or a scam, and we automatically analyze more than 1 million new domains monthly. This data is shared with law enforcement, brand protection organizations, anti-virus companies and internet filters to help consumers not get scammed.

If you could suggest one anti-scam policy for every country in the world, what would it be?

Consumers often do not know where to report scams and the process is often tedious. We have to start with centralizing the reporting of scams, not fragmenting it across multiple stakeholders. And reporting has to be made easy. And good data needs to be shared with as many countries as possible. Professional scammers do not scam in their own country to make it hard for law enforcement to apprehend them. Sharing data makes them more visible, and action can be taken faster.

It seems that a lack of communication between various parties involved in anti-scam activity is slowing the process. Do you see any improvement in that regard?

Yes, but very slowly. We see authorities in the United States and Australia working increasingly together. There is also a bit more international cooperation than a few years ago. But we are only at the beginning, I fear.

At DomainCrawler we provide data to brand protection agencies, registries and registrars who all, of course, are really concerned about brand infringement and domain name abuse in general. Is there a way these types of companies can cooperate?

Yes! We already receive infringing domains from many brands and brand protection organizations. We share these domains again with our data partners (law enforcement, internet filters, anti-virus companies, registrars/registries, and big tech companies). Taking down a website is like whack-a-mole. In this way, brands can very quickly block sites and warn consumers.

Fraud comes in many forms - fake shops, fishing, various Ponzi schemes, etc. - is there a common denominator? If so, what is it?

Scams are the only crime you fall for. This makes them different from other crimes. People feel ashamed and think they are stupid. They are not; several research studies confirm that highly educated people fall for scams just as much as people with little education. The scams may differ, and usually, higher-educated people lose a lot more money. We have to get rid of shaming scam victims. Scams have to be reported, or we will never win this battle.

What technologies are popular among scammers, and which ones do they avoid?

Scammers are not using expensive software like Salesforce or SAP, but they are professionalizing. We see that some scammers have developed entire scam platforms, making it very easy to copy/paste their scams from one domain to another. We even measured it once. A website was taken down, and automatically within 3.5 minutes, the next site was launched. This only confirms that we need to automate our response. We cannot win this manually.

Scammers are becoming increasingly creative, and ways of scamming are becoming more sophisticated and targeted. Are anti-scam technologies keeping up to that, or are we lacking way behind?

We are lagging behind. According to the World Economic Forum, only 0.05% of all scammers are prosecuted. Scammers currently have more resources, experience and money than law enforcement. If we want to turn the tide on scams, we will have to invest a lot more.

Cryptocurrency is a big topic now. Сryptocurrency return companies are often considered Ponzi schemes. Is there a way to distinguish the legitimate ones from the rest?

We always advise investors to only invest in companies that are based in their own country and which have been legally checked and verified by their financial authority. The company may still go bust and you may still lose your money but at least you have a way to file charges.

Please tell us more about the Global Anti Scam Summit in the Hague in November.

On the 9th and 10th of November 2022, the 3rd Global Anti Scam Summit (GASS) is being held. The goal of the GASS is to help governments, consumer & financial authorities, law enforcement, brand protection agencies, and commercial organizations share knowledge and insights on fighting online scams and define concrete actions to combat online fraud more effectively and efficiently.

In 2021, we had nearly 500 virtual guests from 70+ countries. This year the event will be organized in a hybrid style, with delegates attending both in-person and online.

On October 25 at 16:00 CET Jorij will share his expertise and experience, as well as the findings of Global State of Scam Research during the webinar ‘Global State of Scams 2022’ which will also feature the founder of DomainCrawler, Holm Security and Internet Vikings Rickard Vikström.

The event is free to attend. To register click here.

By Rickard Vikström, Founder at DomainCrawler

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