Edited 2020: Consumer Reports “archived” the articles referenced here when they stopped publishing Consumerist in 2017. Since they didn’t bother to put in redirects for their old URLs, the links have been broken for some time. Better yet, with the latest reorganization of this site, the internal link didn’t work because I didn’t bother to put in redirects either. Sad face. Now they all work again.
Since my Skype Fraud post is one of the most popular here, I thought I’d throw in a few references to some other similar tricks. This one is particularly funny:
Bad Luck Facebook Scammer, You Picked A Target Who Reads Consumerist with the wonderful phrase “Once I deposit the funds, you can print it out of any colour printer and it’s real money!”
Then there’s the original article referenced in the one above: Nigerian Scammers Break Into Your Gmail, Ask Your Friends For Money.
We can only hope that one of these days the scammers just go out of business because everyone has enough information to spot them and waste their time. Not likely, but one can hope.
This one probably isn’t new, but it’s worth noting. An associate recently got this bogus “security warning”. Appropriately named “irony”, the message warns the user that “Security Center has detected Malware” and directs the user to a site where they can download a patch. Click on the image for a full sized version.
The “patch” will install malware on the user’s computer. At least they can’t forge the link as belonging to Microsoft, but this could easily fool an unsuspecting user.
This is simple and effective. If you suspect that the company who is calling you is not legitimate, ask the caller for their web site address.
If the call is a fraud attempt, the “agent” probably won’t be able to give it to you. One of these things will happen:
- They won’t “remember” it. For extra bonus fun, ask them if their sales manager knows it.
- They’ll give you a legitimate site that isn’t theirs. Ask them to hold on while you pop it up. If that doesn’t make them hang up, ask them where the information relating to their offer is. They might tell you it’s an exclusive offer that’s not available on the web, but if the site has nothing that seems to be related to the offer, it’s a big warning that they’re not telling the truth.
- They’ll give you a fake site that is theirs. This would be pretty stupid on their part, since it would provide the authorities with a path back to them. Do a search on the site to see what the world has to say about them. If they’re not in the search index, then the site was probably set up a few days ago. More sophisticated users can do a whois lookup on them… look at the registration date. Also if the site owner is masked for privacy, you can be sure it’s not a large established company. Either way, report the site to your local authorities as soon as possible.
These fraud schemes depend on leaving the smallest possible trail back to them. Legitimate businesses want to open as many possible channels of communication with their potential customers as possible.
So it’s as easy as this: no web site equals no legitimacy. Protect yourself.
Here’s a crime for modern times: make the transmission of an intentionally false Caller-ID message a minor criminal offence.
There’s an established mechanism for blocking identity through caller ID, namely the “Private Number” message. Therefore the only conceivable use of false information is to mislead the person being called. Most of the fraudulent calls I receive use bogus, rather than private numbers.
But what should the penalty be? How about something proportional to the impact on the victim? In and of itself, direct victim impact is pretty small, so how about three hours in jail per occurrence?
What, you say that’s ridiculously low? Well then how about this: mandatory consecutive terms, no concurrent sentences. Fraudsters have to make a large number of calls in order to find victims (see footnote). Three hours in jail works out to about a year for every three thousand calls. These guys need to make tens of thousands of calls a day, so in a month or so they could easily rack up a sentence in excess of their entire lifespan.
A slap on the wrist for people who flirt with the idea, major hard time for the fraudsters. Works for me.
Footnote: One operation I led on started with an automated dialler, transfered to a “qualifier” who made sure I had a credit card, and then transfered to a “closer”, who was none too thrilled when I finally admitted that I was deliberately wasting their time, eight minutes in.
In an absolutely brilliant but evil move, a Trojan fools users into solving CAPTCHA images. Infected users think that they’re entering codes to see a model undress, when actually they’re helping crackers register for illegal Yahoo accounts. (more…)