South Korean government uses AI to uncover phone scammers

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Jun. 1, 2023 7:22PM GMT+9

The South Korean government is increasing their efforts to deter phone scams, applying an artificial intelligence model that offers a detailed picture of the phone scamming ecosystem.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety stated that they analyzed 12,323 scam calls reported to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) from 2015 to March of 2023 using an AI model specifically designed to combat phone scammers. This model, which was developed by the South Korean government last February, is the first of its kind to be able to analyze the relationship between bad actors by employing enhanced voice recognition and the latest deep learning technology.

According to the findings, more than 5,500 individuals have taken part in fraudulent behavior over the past eight years. Almost 2,500 alleged suspects have participated in scam calls more than twice, making up 44.8% of these calls. The officials from the integrated data analysis center of the interior ministry and the National Forensic Service (NFS) even discovered that one suspect allegedly participated in 34 different criminal activities.

The authorities also discovered 235 phone scamming groups with 633 individuals as their members. In total, they have conducted 2,866 illicit activities and more than 1,100 cases were committed by groups of two. Moreover, the two largest groups had 18 participants for each group, carrying out 137 crimes and 87 crimes respectively.

“This number could increase since there are 14,000 more scam call audio files to be analyzed,” said Park Nam-in, a researcher in the audio and media lab for the digital analysis division at the NFS to The Readable. “We are also trying to enhance the AI model to better understand changes and trends in phone scams.”

The interior ministry expects this result to be helpful in detecting accomplices and interrogating suspects about other undiscovered criminal activities. Furthermore, they are looking into applying the AI model in the investigation process of police agencies. “The NFS is planning to conduct a survey on the demand for training sessions among police agencies in July,” said an official of the integrated data analysis center.

The cover image of this article was designed by Sangseon Kim.

Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.