A scam that scams you by informing ‘You have been scammed’
Stranger calls at home informing you that a phishing scam has pasted your confidential account information all over the net. He says he represents the “International Verification Society” or “National Verification League” and offers you with help. This is the call many residents of Midland-Odessa area are complaining to the local BBB office that they have been receiving since Wednesday morning.
In order to avail of the service the fraudster requires you to get out your check book and to shoot out your account number and whatever other secret data you are willing to gift away to him. As happens, he says this is a precautionary measure to confirm the account is really yours.
The fraudster is hoping to burgle your account after getting hold of your account access codes or using your personal details to open a fresh credit account. You either end up cleaned out of all your hard-earned money or paying up for luxuries enjoyed by the scammers online at your expense.
Authorities note this to be the most brazen attempts by phishers to get at your account information. As of now, investigations have revealed little else of the scam. Authorities warn, however, the caller is a pushy and clever customer. As a matter of fact, they suspect that the fraudster/s are tapping into ordinary phone lines and using them to make the scam calls. Because of this, investigators are having a hard time in tracing their calls.
Only one woman has reported falling for the scam as yet. Many more may have become victims without realizing it.
Most net users will be familiar with ‘phishing’ scams. Now, imagine a scam that ‘phishes’ out identities by the hundreds. That’s ‘pharming’.
It is similar to phishing to the extent that it too involves stealing of valuable online financial details like bank account numbers, login password, username etc. But there’s a crucial difference. Phishing is initiated when you click on a virulent link sent by scammers via email.
Pharming: The Internet Scam that can wipe out Online Banking!
In pharming, there’s no lapse on your part. In fact, even though you may have taken all sorts of precautions, you wouldn’t be even aware that you are being ‘pharmed’.
This is because pharming is carried out at levels higher than your personal computer. It acts on the Servers to which all net users are connected. Scammers take advantage of breaches in server security and change the legitimate web address for an online financial institution like a bank or a credit card company. Now, even if you click on a legitimate weblink for this establishment, you are subverted to a scam site where you unsuspectingly give away your login information.
It is not far-fetched to imagine that it can cripple institutions if given a chance.
Why experts believe it’s much more dangerous than Phishing
Net security experts are living under a harrowing thought: What if organized crime syndicates sit up and take notice. Organizations operating out of Eastern Europe and South-East Asia may have caught whiff of the opportunity it presents to them.
The experts are open to the frightful implications. Imagine the amount of money a large-scale scam can make after pharming at a few servers for one day. Using millions of account authorizations so obtained, they can clean up whole accounts and make themselves a fortune in another day!
And truth is, the threats of such a scam has only recently been recognized. So, for now, experts are proffering only off-the-rack solutions as a defense against the scam. It may be some time before specialized means for shackling the threat is available.
Internet Business Scams that offer the impossible!
A common internet fraud involves self-proclaimed “manufacturers” selling exclusive products online at throwaway prices through their “company” websites. Often, these scamsters are also known to manipulate rules and sell their products through popular online shopping sites.
Their aim is to capitalize on a new wave of interest for a particular product by offering them at extremely cheap rates online. The products are carefully selected – they are either proven merchandise like cell phones or printer ink cartridges or new eyeball-grabbers that have recently begun to catch on like new digital cameras or camcorders.
If not ascribed to a sudden fit of benevolence, this largesse on the company’s part is claimed to be due to savings resulting from bypassing the company’s mainstream distribution network that are being passed “honestly” to their customers. The offers are pitched shrill and create pressure by declaring that it will stand for a limited period only.
Gullible customers who do buy in on the offer make payments through credit cards online and endlessly wait for their goods to turn up but to no avail. Their attempts, then, to contact the manufacturer via email, ordinary mail or by phone also yield no result. They realize too late that they have been taken for a ride.
Sometimes to add insult to injury, some amongst these fraudsters are even known to send photographs of the promised products leaving the victims high-and-dry and bemused whether to laugh or to cry!
Fake FBI Emails come knocking to pay back money lost to internet scams!
FBI, in a press release, is warning everyone to watch out for an email scam that promises to pay back all the money they lost to internet scams. Pretending to be a new Government initiative, the scam is flooding online users with phony refund notifications.
Scammers do not spare any of their tricks in trying to make the email look ‘official’. Official logos and names of government agencies are littered liberally on the emails. Wonderfully, it gives the impression that governments are cutting across borders, setting aside pressing problems and finding common ground in helping you get the money you lost to a scam last summer.
For effects, it drops names like the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (old name of IC3), the British Government and the Metropolitan Police (UK) and also throws in some fancy titles.
It expects you to sign a ‘fund release order’ immediately, on receipt of which it promises you to wire the reimbursement straight from the “Bank of England”. However, it will not take ‘no’ for an answer – if you fail to do as you are told, it threatens to place the funds on hold and impose penalties on it.
The FBI has listed in the press release, the trademark signs of a scam that the emails bear:
- Multiple spelling errors
- Poor grammar
- Government agency names
- Signatures of officials and titles to appear authentic
- Warning for failure to comply.
Be alert to the scam.
Do not open unsolicited e-mails. Do not click on links in the e-mails. It may trigger a virus attack or a malware download.
Internet Charity Fraud:
Some scammers cite a worthy cause or use the goodwill of well known charitable foundations & big corporations, to run a scam. They impersonate organizations no less than the Red Cross! These guys cheat you in the guise of charity, sometimes claiming donations to support victims of natural disasters like The Katrina.
The scam starts with an email purportedly on behalf of a reputed charitable or commercial organization. They give you the good news that you were hand-picked by the organization to receive a special grant to advance a social cause it was much involved with. The grants would supposedly be for conducting development work in furthering the cause, in your area.
They usually have a story to tell to arouse your sympathetic nerves (pun intended) and elicit an emotional response from you. Especially for this reason, they target members from religious communities to try & prey on their conscience. The scammers often throw in a Nomination or Qualification Number to make their act look more real.
But, here’s the Catch:
In order to claim the grant, the scammers would ask you to do both/either of the following:
- submit bonds worth hundreds of dollars/pounds.
- submit personal bank account information, supposedly for crediting your account with the grant (old-fashioned Phishing!).
Taking another route, the scammers may also solicit donations through websites that they own & manage. They enlist the services of PayPal and request donors to make their contributions at the site.
Scammers, in this case, can be pretty specific to be more credible. An example: A recently-uncovered scam invited donations to specifically cover jet fuel costs incurred while airlifting victims of hurricane Katrina!
Reason why these eagle-eyed swindlers favor the Internet as a medium is not difficult to figure out:
- it makes it easier for them to bolt and run.
- also, easier for them to cover their traces here, when they are done.
As an Internet user, therefore, you have to be even more wide-eyed to the activities of these scammers.