Scam of the day – May 11, 2013 – 45 million dollar ATM scam busted – what it means to you

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced two days ago indictments against eight people for a hacking scheme that provided them with 45 million dollars from the accounts of innocent victims accessed through ATMs around the world.  The plot began with the hacking into an Indian credit card processing company that handles prepaid debit cards of Visa and Mastercard.  As I warned you about more than a year ago in my “scam of the day” for March 31, 2012 credit card processing companies are a weak link in the credit card system.  Their security standards have not been strong and they have been exploited by hackers and identity thieves consistently since at least 2008.  In this instance, what was unique, however, was that once the accounts were hacked, the hackers used sophisticated techniques to raise the withdrawal limits on the accounts thereby permitting the hackers to get much greater access to the accounts of the hacked victims.  The data obtained through the hacking was used to make counterfeit ATM cards which were then used in a coordinated effort around the world to drain their victims accounts.  In New York City alone, they were able to steal approximately 2.4 million dollars while in Japan the amount was an even higher approximately 10 million dollars aided by Japanese banking rules which permit withdrawals of as much as $10,000 from a single ATM.  All of this was done in a few hours as the hackers knew the banks would discover the losses quickly.


So what does this mean to you.  As I have told you many times before, you are only as safe as the company with the weakest security with which you do business.  In this case, the credit card processing industry remains a lucrative target that has not yet taken the necessary steps to protect the information it holds.  Although you will not be responsible for the loss of funds from your account that was illegally accessed in this manner, it is important to constantly monitor your accounts for breaches of security so that you can remedy the situation as quickly as possible.

Scam of the day – November 25, 2012 – Pornography connection with identity theft

One of the biggest threats of identity theft occurs when  people unwittingly download keystroke logging programs that can read all of the information in their computers and use it to steal the identity of the victim.  Often this occurs when people go to websites or respond to emails that promise free music, free games or free pornography.  In addition, a recent study done by Dr. Christopher Ahlers, a German therapist found that about two thirds of the sixty million people who access free pornography websites each day do so at work which puts the data in their employers’ computers in danger of being hacked and used for identity theft.  This is no idle threat.    A few years ago free pornography was used as the lure to hack into the computers of the Port Orange, Florida police department that resulted in more than 300,000 people becoming victims of identity theft.


Employers should follow the lead of the Department of Defense which has issued a prohibition against workers accessing pornography on their computers at work.  Companies should make sure they educate their employees about the dangers of identity theft in attempting to access free pornography, music or games.  In addition, care should be taken to make sure that business computers protect information through encryption and also that they are utilizing the latest firewall technology and security software as well as making sure that their security software is regularly and automatically update.