Is Phone Fraud a Terrorist Threat?

Hand holding phone receiver.Now we have a form of phone fraud that’s specifically targeting Canadians. Unfortunately, it seems to be pretty lucrative. For the full story see CRA phone scam uses fear of tax man to swindle ‘not so smart’ Canadians.

The real problem with this is the difficulty that police forces have in combating this scam, and many others like it. In all coverage of this sort of thing, we have local police forces saying that they have difficulty solving these sorts of crimes. The difficulty arises because the criminals are often offshore and they use the Internet to place calls. The more clever ones prey on the most vulnerable by faking Caller-ID strings to make people think a neighbour is calling.

It’s beyond me why someone doesn’t ask where this money is going and what its being used for. It’s easy to say that the calls appear to be coming from India, but the few times I’ve been able to pry information from scam calls like this, they’ve been in Pakistan. Northern Pakistan. Granted, I’m about to engage in “geographic profiling”, but it seems to me that if scammers are calling from a location that’s controlled by groups we consider to be terrorist threats, it might be reasonable to conclude that the money is going to fund terrorist activity. Is that a big leap?

The scammer in the CBC article says that they take $10,000 per day from vulnerable Canadians. It also shows that they’re extracting money in small amounts. Four prepaid Visa cards to pay off a thousand dollars. That’s going to fly right under the financial monitoring systems designed to track money laundering.

But doesn’t sending $3.5 million a year to a potential terrorist organization sound like something someone should be paying attention to? Why isn’t our impressive communications surveillance infrastructure being used to trace the VOIP packets used to make these calls back to their source? Why aren’t our voice recognition systems set to flag the obvious keywords used in a scam like this? Can we at least disrupt these sorts of communications?

Local police forces are incapable of battling this kind of criminal activity, simply because they don’t have the tools or skills available. Action needs to be taken at the federal level.

Photo credit: Martin Cathrae.

Scam of the Day: searchregistry.org Domain “Search Registration”

Now that domain registrars have made another ludicrous cash grab by charging for domain privacy services, people are opting out of privacy protection.  Well, the scum of the Earth is waiting to victimize unsuspecting new registrants:

Hi there,

Domain Name: [redacted]  (Account #nnnnn)

This email is being sent out to you because search registration for [redacted] is pending.

Please register these domains to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo ASAP to avoid late fees.

Registering for search engines would help you show up in search results and increase your online presence.

You can register your domain at: [link]

We sincerely appreciate your business! If you require anything, we are at your service.

Remember… If you do not register your domain with the search engines, it may not appear in the search engine listing when people are looking for you. Failure to complete your domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may make it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web. Complete your search engine registration today at: www.searchregistry.org

Sincerely,

Search Engine Registry
1787 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 1025
Washington DC, 20006

But never fear. For acting quickly, not only will you avoid late fees (???), but you get a HUGE discount. Yes, now you can pay just $100 for nothing!

searchregistry.org scam

Canada Computers and Electronics Appears to Ignore Serious Security Breach

What’s worse than a security issue? Ignoring it and hoping it will go away.

First a bit of background. For years, I’ve been tracking spam by generating unique forwarding addresses every time I register on a site. The intent was to be able to track the sources of spam and easily disable a compromised address. In practice, it’s proven to be a tool for detecting all sorts of misbehaviour. (more…)

Alert: Hacker Phone Calls Pretending to be Microsoft

Microsoft must have finally gotten the upper hand in Windows security.

I just talked with a non-technical friend who got a call from a call centre purporting to be Microsoft. The agent explained, in broken English, that Microsoft had “detected a virus on her computer”. He then attempted to direct her to TeamViewer, a remote desktop access application.

It was at this point that she wisely terminated the call and got in touch with me. (more…)