Scam of the day – July 6, 2012 – Extreme botnet internet risk to 277,000 computers

In November of 2011, the FBI broke up a botnet scam by which seven Eastern European scammers since 2007 had turned more than 500,000 computers worldwide into a botnet of malware infected computers that redirected the victims’ web browsers to sites designated by the scammers that enabled them to earn more than fourteen million dollars in affiliate and referral fees.    The insidious malware used also prevented infected computers from downloading security software that could detect and cure the problem.  When the FBI shut down the operation last November, they took control of the servers used by the scammers and set up temporary servers to permit the infected computers to still have Internet access.  However, come July 9th, those temporary servers will be turned off and if your computer is one of the 277,000 still estimated as being infected, you will lose all Internet service.

TIPS

Fortunately all you need to do is to go to http://www.dns-ok.us/ to determine if you are infected.  You do not need to download any software to determine if your computer is infected and your computer will not be scanned.  If you find that your computer is infected go to http://www.dcwg.org/fix for help in clearing your computer of the malware. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Scam of the day – May 29, 2012 – Facebook cancellation scam

Facebook users are always targeted by scammers because there are so many of them.  The latest Facebook scam occurs when you receive an email telling you that your Facebook account has been canceled and that you need to click on a link to either confirm or cancel the request.  the link doesn’t take you to an official Facebook page, but it does take you to a third party application present on the Facebook platform.  this unfortunately is enough to fool some people.  If you click on the link, you are asked to allow an unknown Java applet to be installed on your computer.  Unfortunately, if you agree to have the Java applet be installed you are told your Adobe Flash must be updated.  Unfortunately, when you click to update your Adobe Flash, you are not updating your Adobe Flash but downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal all of your personal information from your computer.

TIP

Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  Never click on links unless you are absolutely positive that they are legitimate.  If you get an email such as this and are concerned.  Contact Facebook security on the phone or over the Internet at addresses and telephone numbers that you know are accurate.

 

Scam of the day – May 14, 2012 – Infomercial scams

The Federal Trade Commission has just won a major lawsuit against infomercial marketers of real estate investment scams that stole money from a million victims who fell for the informercials misleading misinformation as to how they could become rich through real estate deals and through the Internet.  The infomercials were for “John Beck’s Free & Clear Real Estate System”, “John Alexander’s Real Estate Riches in 14 days” and “Jeff Paul’s Shortcuts to Internet Millions.”  In addition to the misleading and false claims that were made in the infomercials, the scammers did not adequatley disclose that once you paid for the system, you also were automatically enrolled in a program that charged you anew every month.

TIPS

Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this type of scam is that just because you see an advertisement on a legitimate television, cable or satellite station, hear about it on a legitimate radio station or read about it on a website or publication that is honest, you can’t automatically trust that the advertisment is legitimate. Media outlets do little if any screening for legitimacy and accuracy when it comes to their advertisers.  As always, if it sound too good to be true, it usually is.  It is always a good idea to check out the program and the history of the company behind the program independently before investing in anything.  Checking with the Better Business Bureau, the FTC and your local attorney general are good places to start your research.  And finally, always read the fine print.  Rarely is there anything fine in fine print.

 

Scam of the day – May 11, 2012 – Dangers of hotel internet connections

The FBI has just issued a warning to people traveling out of the country about malware being secretly installed on the laptop computers of people staying at hotels offering Internet connections in their hotel rooms.  The installation of the malware, which has included dangerous keystroke logging programs that can steal all of the information from your computer occurs when in the course of connecting to the hotel Internet system a pop up appears informing you that you need to update a commonly used software product.  The software the pop up refers to is legitimate.  This pop up is not.  It is a phony pop up and when you click on it to install the newest update, instead you are downloading dangerous malware.

TIP

Update your software at home or at work on your own Internet service to avoid these problems.  If you need to update your service while abroad, go directly to the website of the software vendor and download a safe version.

Scam of the day – April 26, 2012 – Latest Craigslist rental scam

Craigslist can provide an easy opportunity for someone to legitimately and economically do business.  Unfortunately, it also can provide an easy opportunity for scam artists.  The latest scam involving Craigslist around the country occcurs when a scammer takes the photograph of a home that is listed for sale on the Internet and then lists it on Craigslist for rent often using the name of the actual owner.    Often the scammers ask for the initial rent and security deposit wired to them before they will show the home.  That is a dead giveaway that you are dealing with a scammer.

TIP

Never buy anything on Craigslist from someone whom you cannot meet in person and never rent a home without actually touring the premises.  Never sign a lease, pay rent or a security deposit without actually inspecting the property both inside and out.  Finally, always be wary of someone who wants you to wire money to them because if the deal is a scam, it is pretty much impossible to recover your funds.

Scam of the day – April 13, 2012 – Prescription drug scam

With the high cost of prescription drugs, many people are turning to buying their prescription drugs over the internet from foreign pharmacies, particularly in Canada where the prices are attractive and the quality control is good.  However, this presents an opportunity for scammers which they have recently been exploiting in multiple ways.  The first way is through phony online pharmacies which do not deliver the prescription drugs that they promise.  However, more insidious are the phony online pharmacies that gather your information purportedly in order to process your order, but then use that information to send phony Drug Enforcement Agency agents to your home or call you purporting to be DEA agents who threaten you with arrest unless you pay them thousands of dollars.

TIP

Although it is still technically illegal to purchase prescription drugs from Canada either directly or over the internet, federal officials using enforcement discretion as provided by law generally do not get involved with prescription drug shipments for personal consumption.  The first thing anyone considering ordering prescription drugs from Canada should do is make sure that they are dealing with a legitimate Canadian pharmacy that requires a perscription from an American doctor.  It is easy to research this online.  Secondly, if anyone contacts you purporting to be from the DEA threatening arrest for your personal prescription drug purchases, ignore them.  They are scammers.  Presently the DEA has indicted eleven people operating out of the Dominican Republic for operating such a scheme and are working toward getting them extradited to the United States to face trial

Scam of the day – April 7, 2012 – Rise in telephone scams

Despite the focus of scams on the internet, scams over the telephone are having a resurgence, particularly among older Americans.  It is important to remember that even if you have listed your phone on the federal Do Not Call List to prevent telemarketers from contacting you, scammers don’t pay much attention to the Do Not Call List.  Common phone scams involve phony contests or lotteries or solicitations from phony charities.  It is also important to remember that legitimate charities are allowed to call you even if you are on the Do Not Call List.  Many people have been scammed out of money or become the victims of identity theft by giving scammers personal financial or identifying information on the phone.

TIP

Never give personal information on the phone to someone who calls you.  You can never be sure they are legitimate even if you have caller ID.  As for contests, it is difficult enough to win a contest that you have entered.  It is impossible to win one that you have not entered .  If you get a call from anyone that purports to be a legitimate organization with which you do business, such as a bank, don’t give the caller any information, but rather call the real institution at a telephone number that you know is accurate if you have any questions.

What is Malware?

Malware is the term for malicious software that you unwittingly download on your computer when you click on links in emails from scammers or fall prey to phishing and download the program from a phony website to which you were lured in the belief that it was a legitimate website.

One of the most common and dangerous types of malware is the keystroke logging program which is often referred to as a Trojan horse.  Once this malware is installed on your computer, the scammer is able to access all of the information on your computer and can provide the scammer with access to your bank accounts, credit cards, brokerage accounts or any other information that is contained on your computer.

TIP

Never click on links unless you are absolutely sure it is legitimate.  Also make sure you have an operating firewall on your computer and your computer security software is up to date.