Scam of the day – November 6, 2012 – Video update scam

It is an unfortunate fact that I never have difficulty coming up with a new scam or identity theft scheme for each day’s “scam of the day.”  Often, like today, I merely have to go to the inbox of my email account.  Today I found an email where the subject line read “New Video Update” and the message told me that I had a new video update followed by the tantalizing words “This changes everything.”  In case I was still hesitating to click on the link to the video update, the email went on to say “Don’t miss this, will be taking this down ASAP.”  And just in case I was still hesitating, the email ended with a “P.S. Don’t miss this video.”  Well, I will just have to miss the video because if I had clicked on the link, I would have downloaded a keystroke logging malware program that would have enabled the scammer to steal all of the information in my computer and make me a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

As I regularly repeat, never click on links in emails or tweets or Facebook messages or anywhere else you receive a link unless you are absolutely sure it is legitimate.  And even then you have to be extra careful because the source of an email or other message may appear to come from someone you trust, but their account may have been hacked into so that the link actually is coming from a scammer.  The best course of action is not to click on a link unless you have confirmed with the sender that it is legitimate.  Remember, even paranoids have enemies.  By the way, this particular scam didn’t even indicate who was sending the video other than indicating it was sent by “Member Center.”  Member Center of what was not in anyway clear.

Scam of the day – November 5, 2012 – Free iPad mini scam

Scammers always take advantage of whatever is new and exciting in the news so it is not a surprise that scams surrounding the introduction by Apple of the new iPad mini are being used to steal money from unwary victims.  You may receive a message on your Facebook page that you have been chosen to receive a free iPad mini.  All you need to do is click on a link that leads you to a “Request for Permission” page on Facebook.  Unfortunately, if you give permission, you won’t get a free iPad mini, but will succeed in downloading an app that will enable the scammer to use your Facebook account to send out more phony messages to all of your friends who are likely to trust the message because it appears to come from you.  If they, in turn, click on the link provided to them to get a free iPad mini, they will end up either providing information that will be used to make them victims of identity theft or unwittingly, they will download a keystroke logging malware program that can steal the information from their computers such as passwords, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.

TIPS

As I always say, “Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  No one is giving out free iPad minis and why should you have been selected when you never even entered a contest?  If it looks too good to be true, it generally is.  Don’t trust messages on your Facebook page or in your email that contain links.  You can never be sure when you first see such a message that it is indeed from your friend instead of a hacker nor can you be sure that even if the message is from your friend that your friend is not unknowingly passing on malware or a scam.  Never click on a link until you have confirmed it is legitimate.  If you do manage to install a malicious app, remove the message from your timeline, revoke the app’s publishing rights and report the scam to Facebook and make sure that you have revoked access to your Facebook account.

Scam of the day – October 20, 2012 – Miley Cyrus sex tape scam

Curiosity killed the cat, but for we humans, it can too often lead to identity theft, which although certainly not as bad as death, can be pretty devastating.  The latest scam appealing to our curiosity is now appearing on Facebook pages where you will find an announcement about a breaking news story regarding a secret sex tape of Miley Cyrus.  If you click on the link in order to view the tape, a request for you to prove that you are over 18 appears.  When you fill in the information requested, it can not only lead to your identity theft, but can also allow the identity thief to steal your Facebook information so that Facebook messages from the scammer/identity thief will appear to be coming from you which will make your friends more likely to trust the message and end up becoming victims of identity theft themselves.  By the way, there is no such sex tape.

TIPS

Never trust links provided by anyone on your Facebook page or anywhere else without checking out their validity first.  Links luring you with promises of sex tapes of Miley Cyrus or nude pictures of princess Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William (which do actually exist) or anything else that would tempt you to click on the link are an effective way for identity thieves and scammers to trick you into downloading viruses or keystroke logging malware that can steal all of the information from your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.  If you want to check out the veracity of a gossip, a safe place to go is www.tmz.com.  And of course, as I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone;”  even if you receive an email, text or Facebook message from someone you trust, you can’t be sure that either they have been hacked and the message is coming from a scammer or they are inadvertently passing on tainted links that they don’t realize contains a virus.

Scam of the day – October 7, 2012 – Hulk Hogan sex tape scams

Celebrity sex tapes are nothing new.  From Pamela Anderson to Paris Hilton to Kim Kardashian and others, the public’s thirst for sex tapes sometimes made without and almost always distributed without the knowledge of the celebrity is always great.  The latest of the sex tapes to hit the Internet is a sex tape that apparently was done surreptitiously of former WWE wrestling champion Hulk Hogan who is shown in a thirty minute tape having sex with a woman who has been identified by some as the ex-wife of Hogan’s best friend.  A number of legitimate websites are showing a one minute portion of the tape, but you can probably expect soon that the full thirty minute tape will be appearing on the Internet.  But beware.  Scammers, as they have done with other celebrity nude shots or sex tapes,  most recently with the topless shots of Kate, the Duchess of Windsor will be sending out emails, Facebook messages and tweets that lure you to phony websites that when you click on the link necessary to watch the tape will download dangerous keystroke logging malware on your computer that can steal your information and make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Never trust links that come in emails, tweets or Facebook messages.  Even if they come from friends who you trust, you must remember my motto, “trust me you can’t trust anyone.”  Your friends may have had their email account, Twitter account or Facebook account hacked into by an identity thief and the message that you are getting may be from the identity thief, not your friend.  And that message may well contain keystroke logging malware.  In addition, even if your real friends pass on a link, they may be unwittingly passing on a link that they do not realize will cause you to become a victim of identity theft.  The best course of action, if you are intent upon seeing the video is to go only to websites that you know are legitimate.

Scam of the day – September 23, 2012 – Groupon scams

First, let’s get it straight, Groupon is not a scam.  In fact, it is a successful website where you can get great deals on all kinds of goods and services by buying heavily discounted online coupons.  You also can share these coupons with friends through email or social media, such as Facebook.  But Groupon’s appeal is also appealing to scammers and identity thieves  who are presently sending fake emails that look just like the email that Groupon uses when a friend shares a coupon deal with you.  The problem comes with an attachment that in the fake email is called a “gift coupon.zip” which you are required to click on in order to access the coupon.  Don’t do it.  This attachment will actually infect your computer with a keystroke logging software program that will steal all of your information from your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Remember my motto – Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  As always, make sure that your computer security software is kept up to date and also make sure that you have security software on all of your other mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.  And never, ever, click on links unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.  In a case like this, despite the fact that the email looks so legitimate, you can’t take the chance.  So before you click on such a link, go directly to Groupon’s customer support and inquire whether the email you received was legitimate or not.

Scam of the day – August 8, 2012 – Citadel malware on Facebook scam

Recently a new version of malware called Citadel has been discovered on people’s Facebook pages.  The scam appears as a request for donations to a children’s charity.  Presently versions of the malware have been found on Facebook pages in England, Italy, Spain, Germany and Holland along with the United States.  In each case, the language used is the language of the country, but the grammar is not good, a common thread for many scams, particularly those originating overseas.  The American request is to help children in Haiti and it asks for a donation of just a dollar and then provides a form for you to enter your name, credit card number, expiration date, CVV code from the card and security password, if one is used.  Unfortunately, the scammers are not after a dollar and they aren’t helping any charity. They steal the entire credit limit of the credit card.

TIPS

Before you give to a charity, first make sure it is a legitimate charity.  Go to www.charitynavigator.org where you can find out whether indeed the particular charity is legitimate as well as, even if it is a legitimate charity, it pays as administrative and fund raising fees.  But even then never give through an online solicitation because you have no way of knowing whether it is the real charity or not that contacted you.  If you want to make a charitable contribution, go to the real charity’s website to make your donation.

Scam of the day – June 25, 2012 – Latest Facebook scam

It is a relatively easy matter for someone to hack into the Facebook account of one of your friends.  The hacker then sends you a message with a link that you trust because it appears to be coming from one of your friends.  The link then takes you to a phony phishing page that appears to be a Facebook login page, where you insert your password to re-enter Facebook.  You have now turned over your Facebook password to the identity thief.  Once armed with that, the identity thief then has access to all of the information you have input into your own legitimate Facebook page, which often may have the information many of us use as security questions for services such as online banking.  Since many people make the mistake of using the same password for everything, you have now provided the identity thief with both your bank account password and information necessary to answer your security question.  At that point the identity thief has enough information to empty your bank account.

TIPS

Use different passwords for different accounts and change them on a regular basis.  When determining security questions, consider whether people would be able to readily access the information necessary to answer your security question from information that may be available online.  Never click on links from strangers and never click on links from friends who may have been hacked until you have actually spoken to them to confirm that the link is from them.  Even then you should exercise caution because your friend may have unwittingly be passing on a link tainted with malware.  While on Facebook, if a link takes you back to a Facebook log-in page, immediately exit the browser.  Do not type your password in.

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 – March 15, 2012 – Pinterest Scams

The name “Pinterest” may not be familiar to you, but it will be.  It is a new social media site by which people are able to share or “pin” images of their business logos, business coupons and discounts for marketing purposes to a virtual bulletin board.  Viewers can then either indicate that they like the image, comment on the image or re-pin it to their own boards.  Pinterest is becoming increasingly popular and as more people are drawn to the site, so are scammers who are using phony postings that are easy to make in an effort to lure victims into being scammed by being routed to the same surveys that the scammer gets paid for in similar Facebooks scams or that trick you into providing personal information used for identity theft or, most seriously, install keystroke logging malware software that harvests all of your computer’s information and makes you a victim of identity theft.

TIP

As always, if the offer looks too good to be true, it probably is, so a bit of skepticism is in order.  If you are routed to a survey, don’t take it and make sure that you do not enter personal information that could lead ot your identity being stolen.  Finally, a bit of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so make sure that your computer security software is up to date and that it includes antiphishing capabilities.  Phishing is when you are directed by a scammer to a phony website that purports to be a legitimate website.