Hackers pose as UK cyber-security chief for online scam

Data theft bid was one of 2.7 million scams taken down in 2021

Lindy Cameron, head of the National Cyber Security Centre. Photo: NCSC

Hackers posing as the head of the UK’s main cyber-security agency tried to steal personal information in a £5 million ($6.1m) theft scam.

The plot was one of 2.7 million online scams taken down last year, including fake celebrity endorsements and extortion attempts linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, figures show.

The scammer sent an email claiming to be the chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, Lindy Cameron, the agency said.

The email claimed the organisation had stopped £5m of the victim's money being stolen and asked for personal details to send it back.

“We know that scammers will go to great lengths — and indeed my name has been used to try to trick people — but as we continue to expand our defences we can see the tangible impact this is having,” Ms Cameron said.

The NCSC said more than 1,400 phishing scams linked to Britain's public health service were taken down last year, more than 10 times as many as 2020, as scammers looked to prey on public concern around the pandemic. Phishing allows criminals to secure personal information by duping the victim into opening a message.

Jeremy Fleming, the head of the UK’s intelligence and security agency GCHQ, said global economic problems led to an increased threat to business from cyber attackers. He said that hackers were constantly adapting their tactics to identify security loopholes and make money.

Updated: May 10, 2022, 3:56 PM