Scam of the day – June 9, 2012 New military scam

Scammers have no scruples.  They target whomever they think is vulnerable including the elderly.  They also have been increasingly targeting the men and women of the military both active and retired.  The most recent military scam involves and email that purports to be from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services, which is the payment service for the Department of Defense.  In this email the scammer informs the military service member or retiree that if they are receiving disability compensation from the VA, they may be entitled to additional money from the IRS.  The email goes on to request supporting documentation including copies of the email recipient’s income tax return, 1099-R form, Retiree Account Statements and VA award level.  The email looks legitimate and the email address from which it is sent has a “.mil” domain, but the email is totally false.  Anyone sending this material will find themself a victim of identity theft.

TIP

As always, you can never be sure of who is sending you an email no matter how legitimate it may appear.  Any email that seeks such personal information should never be responded to until you have contacted the legitimate agency at a telephone number or email address that you know is legitimate to confirm whether or not the email that you received is a scam.

Scam of the day – June 8, 2012 – Latest Facebook scam

Facebook is a breeding ground for scams because so many people use Facebook, it attracts scammers.  It also is fertile ground for scams because it is easy for scammers to infiltrate.  The latest scam involves a posting from a “friend” who is not really one of your friends, but just one of your friends whose account has been hijacked.  The posting by your friend tells you how to link your Visa or MasterCard debit cards to your Facebook account and that by doing so you will get a 20% cash back offer.  Unfortunately, you will not be getting any cash back if you follow the directions provided you.  Instead you will download a keystroke logging malware program called Zeus which has been used by organized crime to steal more than 60 million dollars from unsuspecting victims.

TIPS

Never install a game or an app that you are not absolutely positive is legitimate.  Don’t trust postings from friends because they may have had their Facebook account hacked thereby giving access of the scammer to his or her list of friends.  Always be wary of posts from friends that offer business deals.  When in doubt, call your real friend and speak to them directly.

Scam of the day – June 7, 2012 – Sacramento low income housing scam

On occasion, I will provide warnings for particular local scams, both to warn the local citizens of a particular area of a dangerous scam, but also because just about all scams weave their way throughout the country and you can expect a scam that starts in one place to soon go to another.  The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency is warning people about phony websites that are posing as websites where people can apply for subsidized housing under its Housing Choice Voucher Program.  Many people are familiar with the program under its former name of Section 8 Housing.  This week, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency began taking online applications for the first time in six years to be added to the waiting list for subsidized rental homes and and apartments in Sacramento County.  Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of the situation and setting up phony websites that ask for credit card information or offer to sell credit reports.

TIP

The only website to apply for the Sacramento Housing Choice Voucher Program is www.sacwaitlist.com.  The deadline is midnight tomorrow so if you are interested, you must act quickly.  The legitimate website will not ask for your credit card infromation and neither payments nor a credit report is required to make a legitimate application.  For people around the country, never provide credit card information or other personal information on any website that you are not sure is absolutely legitimate.  If you think it may be the legitimate website (and scammers make excellent forgerers) call the agency first to confirm the true website.

Scam of the day – June 6, 2012 – US Airways Phishing scam

Airlines provide great convenience with email confirmations and even e tickets for your air travel.  However, recently the Internet Crime Complaint Center is warning people about a phishing email scam in which people are receiving emails that purport to be from US Airways.  The email contains a phony itinerary for a phony flight that the person receiving the email never booked.  The email looks quite official and carries a forgery of the US Airways logo.  The email has a link to click on for further details.  If you click on the link you will download keystroke logging malware that will steal all of the information from your computer.

TIPS

The phony emails do not have your name on them.  Although most emails from US Airways will contain your name and other personal information, which the phony emails do not, US Airways legitimate check-in emails will have a valid confirmation code and describe specifically your trip.  Do not click on the link in these phony emails.  You can confirm that the link is a phony by hovering your mouse pointer over the link without clicking on the link.  This will allow you to identify the real URL of the link, which will not be the correct www.usairways.com.

Scam of the day – June 5, 2012 – Escort scam

The Internet Crime Complaint Center is describing a new scam that involves an escort service website.  The website indicates that it arranges for escorts who for a fee will “spend time” with paid companions.  Victims of this scam provided photographs of themselves and personal information as part of the process and then found that their photographs and information were posted on the websites along with slanderous statements.  They then reported receiving extortion emails offering to remove the photographs and information from the website for a fee.

TIPS

Prostitution is illegal.  Anyone trusting a website for illegal purposes is asking for trouble.  Never give personal information to anyone unless you are totally confident that your information is secure.  You can never be secure with a website providing an illegal service or product.

Scam of the day – June 4, 2012 – Olympic scams

Although the Summer Olympic Games in London will not begin until July 27th, it is not too early to warn you about the myriad of scams that will be  connected to the Olympics.  Of course, there already are scams going on in regard to the sale of tickets to the Olympics.   During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, one group of scammers stole 3.5 million dollars through the sale of phony tickets.  Another scam involves phony copy of Olympic schedule of events.  This particular scam will download malware on to your computer if you have not updated your Adobe Reader and Acrobat software.

TIPS

Only buy your tickets through legitimate ticket sellers and make sure you are not clicking on links that send you through phishing to scammers.  Also, make sure that your security software is up to date.  Be prepared for messages from “friends” on your Facebook page to click on links to videos and pictures of Olympic moments.  Don’t click on the links.  These may be placed by scammers posing as your friends or your friends, unwittingly may be passing on malware to you.  Finally, don’t download any apps for your smartphone or other portable devices about the Olympics unless you are sure that the source is legitimate.  These are often sources of malware that can steal information from your smartphone or other devices.

Scam of the day – June 3, 2012 – New Social Security scam

Starting March 1, 2013 all Social Security recipients will be required to receive their benefits through an automatic electronic deposit into the recipient’s bank account.  This is both a much more efficient way of providing benefit payments as well as a great opportunity for scammers.  Many people are already receiving telephone calls and emails purportedly from Social Security asking for personal information, such as the person’s name, Social Scurity number and bank account information.  Sometimes the people who are contacted by the scammers are already receiving electronic deposits.  In that situation they are told by the scammers that a computer malfunction caused the loss of the information.

TIP

Never give information over the phone to people whom you have not called and are not absolutely sure are legitimate.  In this case, the Social Security Administration never contacts people by email requesting information.  Neither would they ask you for personal information by phone.  As always, if you have a concern that the caller or email is legitimate, merely call your local Social Security office to find out if it is a scam.  Most likely it is.

Scam of the day – June 2, 2012 – Microsoft Certified scam

Recently many people have started receiving telephone calls from a company that identifies itself as “Microsoft Certified.”  Unfortunately, there is no “Microsoft Certified” and the scammers using this name have nothing to do with the legitimate Microsoft company.   The victims are told that they are being contacted because Microsoft Certified has been notified by the victim’s computer that it is infected with a virus.  They then instruct the victim to open a program called Error Log that lists internal errors on Microsoft software using computers.  Inevitably some error messages will come up although generally they are harmless and of no consequence.  They then become victimized in two ways.  First they sell the victim anti-virus software that can be obtained from the real Microsoft at no cost and then they get the victims to download a file that contains keystroke logging malware that enables the scammer to steal all of the information from the victim’s computer.

TIP

You never know who is on the other end of a telephone call.  Microsoft does not call its users in regard to security matters.  If you have any concerns that there may be a legitimate problem, contact Microsoft by telephone or on line at numbers and addresses that you know are legitimate to confirmt that your previous contact was with a scammer.

Scam of the day – June 1, 2012 – Summer vacation scams

Memorial Day is often considered to mark the unofficial start of summer and many of us are looking forward to our summer vacations.  Scammers, however, it seem don’t take much time off and summer vacation time brings a new batch of scams.  Recently a local Bed and Breakfasts on Block Island, New York was the victim of a scam that is being repeated around the country and about which you should be aware.  The scam involved a phony ad on Craigslist.  The advertisement merely copied photographs and text from the real B and B’s website and put up the phony ad on Craigslist.

TIP

Merely because you see an ad on a legitimate website, such as Craigslist, does not mean that the advertisement is legitimate.  No vacation website is able to confirm the truthfulness of all of the people who list on the websites.  Before you send any money, make sure that you are sending funds to the real vacation home or hotel owners.  Always be wary of people who ask you to wire the money which is  typical way scammers obtain their funds.  Confirm the legitimacy of the advertisement with some investigation of your own including calling a telephone number for the home or hotel that you know is correct.

Scam of the day – May 31, 2012 – New malware problem

The FBI has just issued a warning about a particular type of malware attack originating from Russia and the Ukraine.  Through phishing or some other technique, the victim is lured into downloading malware at which point a pop up warning comes up which appears to be from the Department of Justice and indicates that the victim’s computer has been identified by the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section of the Deparment of Justice as having visited websites containing child pornography and other illegal content.  The malware also locks the victim’s computer.  The victim is informed that in order to have their computer unlocked they must pay a $100 fine through prepaid electronic payments such as MoneyPack or Paysafecard.  But the problem doesn’t end there.  This malware also contains a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the information from your computer.

TIP

Always beware of phishing scams luring you to phony websites and keep your security software up to date to help identify phishing websites.  If you find that you have been victimized by this particular scam, notify your bank, credit card companies and any other financial institution where you may have information regarding those accounts on your computer that your security has been breached.  Have a computer security service remove the malware from your computer.