F1 driver Jenson Button takes wheel of ‘Phish & Chips’ van in bid to raise awareness of email and text scams

Jenson Button stands outside Santander’s Phish & Chip van where he has been serving fish and chips to the public in exchange for phishing emails and smishing texts (John Nguyen/Santander)

RACING driver Jenson Button has gone behind the wheel of a rather different vehicle in a bid to help raise awareness of scam emails.

The F1 star manned Santander’s ‘Phish & Chips’ van, swapping copies of scam emails and text messages received by customers for fish and chips.

Button is throwing his weight behind the bank’s national campaign to help the public avoid being conned by phishing emails and smishing messages.

He fired up the friers of the Phish & Chips van as it made its appearance in London, following a month-long nationwide tour visiting Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leicester, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff and Bristol.

(John Nguyen/Santander)

During the tour, the van has handed out over 3,000 portions of fish and chips to the public, along with a side of advice on avoiding the tricks criminals’ use in their attempts to steal people’s money and identities.

Button said: Being behind the wheel of the Phish and Chip van around London was certainly a different driving experience! It was a lot of fun being part of the tour and serving fish and chips to the public in exchange for their scam emails. It’s been eye opening to see how many people receive these emails every day!”   

What are phishing, smishing and vishing?

Phishing: Designed to steal money, phishing is when criminals trick you into installing software on your computer or steal your personal information. This is usually done via a spoof communication containing a malicious link.

Smishing: A form of phishing, smishing is when someone tries to trick you into giving them your private information via a text or SMS message.

Vishing: Short for voice phishing, this is when scammers persuade people to give out their personal details over the phone.

The Phish & Chips van was created following research showing how the nation is in the grip of a phishing epidemic, with three quarters (74 per cent) of Britons targeted by scammers with phishing emails, smishing texts and vishing calls.

With each person targeted receiving an average of 16 fraudulent emails, texts or calls last year, this means up to 600 million phishing, smishing and vishing attempts potentially took place in the UK in the last 12 months (the equivalent of over 1.6 million scam messages each day).

While ‘phishing’ as a term may have entered the mainstream lexicon, Santander’s research shows that one in seven people don’t know the terms phishing, smishing or vishing at all, while almost three quarters of people are not fully familiar with their meaning.

(John Nguyen/Santander)

Reza Attar-Zadeh, Head of Customer Experience at Santander UK, said: “Phishing has been around for a number of years, originating with emails that were unsophisticated and obviously fraudulent.

“However, today phishing emails have evolved. They can appear in inboxes as convincing and genuine communications from consumer brands, but there are signs to look out for such as spelling mistakes, generic greetings rather than your name and suspicious looking email addresses.”