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Fujitsu trials anti-phone fraudster tech

Hopes to scuttle scammers who prey on elderly

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Fujitsu and Nagoya University have kicked off a month-long trial of new technology designed to raise the alarm when it thinks the recipient of a phone call is being scammed by a fraudster.

The trials will take place in Okayama Prefecture in collaboration with local and regional police and the Chugoku Bank, according to Fujitsu.

The technology, which was first announced in March, was developed as part of a university study, Modelling and Detecting Overtrust from Behaviour Signals, led by Kazuya Takeda.

It’s designed to detect “overtrust” – the situation that occurs when a victim is overwhelmed by distressing information and loses the ability to evaluate whether they are being lied to or not.

It does this by analysing voice tone, and enhances its scam detection capabilities by searching for the keywords often used in such situations.

The trials will look to improve not only the capabilities of the technology but the ability of key groups to respond to the victim once alerted by the tech, Fujitsu said.

In this way, once a suspected scam is detected, the victim will be notified by an automated message and an email sent to their nominated family members as well as the police and the relevant bank.

The idea is that the police can then send someone round to visit the victim and the bank can put an immediate freeze on their account.

While relatively uncommon in the West, phone fraud is a major problem in Japan, with the elderly and infirm targeted by scammers pretending to be a member of the victim’s family or sometimes the local police force.

They then relate some distressing information – for example, that their relative has been arrested – and then demand some funds to sort the problem out.

The detection devices will be installed on the landlines of over 100 households during the trial period, after which Fujitsu and Nagoya Uni will look at making some money out of the project.

The Japanese tech giant also said it is looking at developing the idea to “prevent phone fraud before it actually occurs”.

Whether this involves blocking the phone numbers known to be used by fraudsters or implementing some kind of Minority Report-style precog technology is not made clear. ®

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