Thailand ranked in top three for financial fraud scams, says GoogleLegacy

Google’s 2023 Bad Apps Report ranked Thailand among the top three countries in the Asia-Pacific region with a significant spike in financial fraud scams last year.

Aman Dayal, Asia-Pacific head of trust & safety operations for Google Play, stated during an online media briefing that Singapore, Thailand, and India were particularly affected.

With over 90% of smartphone penetration rates, the Asia-Pacific region is a fertile ground for fraudulent activities. Scammers often exploit the region’s high respect for authority, impersonating government or banking officials to trick their victims.

The digital literacy gap in many parts of the region also contributes to the prevalence of online scams, with older mobile users being especially vulnerable to deceptive messages and risky applications.

A recent survey by Google identified the 25 to 34 year old demographic in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam as the most susceptible to scams. In response to this, Google has improved its Google Message feature in Singapore, Thailand, and India, where scam rates soared last year.

Google Play Store’s real-time scanning feature, introduced initially in the Asia-Pacific region, has successfully detected over five million new malicious apps, providing global protection for users. In addition, Google has launched a Google Play Protect feature in Singapore and Thailand, designed to block potentially harmful apps attempting to access sensitive device permissions.

The Bank of Thailand reported that phishing apps masquerading as legitimate banks resulted in losses exceeding a billion baht in 2023. Annabelle Chow, a principal clinical psychologist at Annabelle Psychology, highlighted the emotional impact of scams, adding that the stigma associated with being scammed often prevents victims from seeking help.

She emphasised the importance of increasing empathy to facilitate open discussions about scams, thereby improving tech platforms’ security measures. Google reported that in 2023, it had thwarted 2.28 million policy-violating apps from being published on the Google Play store and barred 333,000 malicious developer accounts.

Google’s ongoing investment in machine learning systems and enhanced app review processes are part of its measures to fight against malicious actors, reported Bangkok Post.

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Author: Bob Scott