Identity of Countdown's Rachel Riley is stolen by HSBC - but all is not as it seems

26 November 2018

Social media users were shocked to learn at the weekend that Countdown’s Rachel Riley gets all the answers fed to her through an earpiece after the presenter posted a tell-all confessional video.

In the clip, posted on Instagram and Twitter, Ms Riley admits that she isn’t very good at maths and gets all the answers through an earpiece.

Rachel says: “I’m Rachel Riley and I need to confess something. I’m bad at maths. I get fed the answers in my earpiece.”

Things aren't always as they seem online. As proven by our fake @RachelRileyRR video. Watch out for the real fraudsters and be sure before you click...

— HSBC UK (@HSBC_UK) November 26, 2018

However, all is not what it appears to be.

It is all part of a campaign drummed up by HSBC to help draw attention to the dangers of digital fraud in the run up to Christmas.

The bank has used video manipulation technology and a vocal impressionist to put new words into Rachel’s mouth, highlighting just how sophisticated scammers have become.

Fraudsters are getting more and more sophisticated. Just ask @RachelRileyRR. #CyberMonday

— HSBC UK (@HSBC_UK) November 25, 2018

Tracie Pearce, HSBC’s head of retail banking, says: “Digital fraudsters are unfortunately likely to pull out new tricks and traps in the run up to Christmas.”

She adds: “Fraudulent techniques are becoming even more advanced, making it harder for consumers to know if someone really is who they say they are online. We want to make sure our campaign is the only thing that catches you out this season.”

How to protect yourself from cyber crime

Set up a strong, separate password

Your first line of defence against cyber crime is to have a strong password.

The key to having a strong password is to have one you can remember easily but somebody else won’t be able to guess. The best way to do this is to start by using three random words because length gives complexity.

The strongest passwords also contain a mixture of capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols – so you can simply supplement these within your three random words, so long as the substitutions aren’t easy to guess. For extra security, make sure you use a separate password for all your different accounts. For more information, see How to create a password to give you peace of mind.

Install the latest software and app updates

Cyber criminals use weaknesses in software and apps to steal data. Software and app updates are designed to fix these weaknesses and installing them will keep your system secure.

It may sometimes be frustrating as it can take time, but always make sure you update your system. Setting your system to update automatically as soon as an update is released is recommended.

It is also a good idea to install anti-virus software on your laptop and any other personal devices and then keep it up-to-date.

Don’t click suspicious links

A lot of people are caught out by fraudsters without even realising it after clicking on malicious links or downloading an attachment.

Always be careful of opening a link in an email or text message and make sure you don’t ever enter your online banking details afterwards.

It is also sensible to make sure you don’t share your passcodes, PIN or online banking password with another person, not even bank staff.

Also, never download software or let anyone log on to your computer devices remotely during or after a cold call. 

Only download apps from reputable app stores

There are stringent tests that apps have to pass in order to appear on reputable app stores, particularly related to security.

If an app is only available through less legitimate means, then chances are it is nowhere near as secure and should be avoided.


Never pay by bank transfer if you don’t know the seller and always use a credit card, debit card or PayPal – or a payment option that gives some protection against fraud.

You can confirm the website connection is genuine by looking for a padlock in the address bar before entering personal and payment details. While the padlock does not guarantee the site is genuine, the connection will be secure.

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