Meta, IRS among most impersonated organizations

Facebook parent Meta, along with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Apple, and Amazon, have been identified as the American brands most frequently impersonated by phishing scammers to defraud their victims.

Cybercriminals have impersonated Meta, formerly known as Facebook before its rebranding in 2021, a total of 10,457 times over the last four years, according to an analysis of more than one million verified phishing scam reports by Mailtrack, an email tracking service.

This makes Meta the top American brand that scammers impersonate to make their phishing attempts more convincing. The IRS is the second choice, with its name used in 9,762 scams, followed by Apple (9,110), Amazon (8,919), and gaming platform Steam (4,833).

Between January 2020 and March 2024, scammers impersonated Microsoft 4,518 times, followed by payment service Paypal, which they imitated 4,111 times.

Internationally, Japanese organizations top the list of most impersonated brands, according to Mailtrack. The Japanese mobile phone company au by KDDI was impersonated in 18,964 scams in the past four years, followed by JR East, a Tokyo-based railway company, with 18,250 reported impersonation attempts.

Japanese retail brand Aeon and payment service JCB were next, featuring in 16,211 and 14,907 impersonation scams, respectively. Polish e-commerce platform Allegro rounded up the international top five with 6,399 impersonation scams.

According to Mailtrack, over a quarter (27.93%) of brand impersonation phishing scams involved IT and technology brands, with banking and financial services a close second. Transportation and logistics, media and entertainment, and retail were also among the sectors frequently targeted by impersonation attempts.

The analysis was based on more than 1.14 million phishing scam reports listed on PhishTank, a phishing monitoring platform. Of those, 249,615 were identified as impersonating a company or organization, spanning a total of 256 brand names.

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