Internet Crime Complaint Center Raises Alarms

May 8, 2014

Recently, the Internet Crime Complaint Center ("IC3") raised two alarms about online scams.  The BrokeAndBroker.com Blog urges its readers to spread the word.

Unhappy Birthday

For nearly a year, IC3 has warned about a telecommunications company phishing scam; and despite issuing several alerts, the scammers are about to celebrate a birthday and have become so encouraged by the results of their fraud that they are redoubling their efforts. Here's how this phishing rip-off works.

The Bait For The Phishing

You get a telephone call or someone leaves you a voicemail. The message -- one of those really infuriating automated calls -- says that he or she is calling from your telecommunication carrier and you are being offered a credit, discount, or prize with a value of between $100 to $2,500. Oh my, lucky you!

In order to reap the benefit of this wonderful award, all ya gotta do is visit your telecommunications company's website. And the message makes it quite simple for you. You're told to visit www.my [INSERT THE NAME OF YOUR TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY] 900.com.  Some of the variants on this theme will send you to a site that instead of the "900.com" may have the terms: MyBonus, ILove, ILike, Reward, Promo, or some other fanciful suffix.

If you're foolish -- allow me to be a bit harsher -- if you're an idiot, you will log on to the indicated site; which, when you arrive at the webpage will look like a bona fide website of your telecommunications carrier. The operative phrase here is "look like." It ain't. It's less like a bona fide website and more like a spider's web that will entangle you in a nightmarish hell of fraud.  

Biting Down On The Hook

If you were dumb enough to visit the site, you may well have also been dumb enough to enter all the log-in data that has been asked of you, among which will be the last four digits of your social security number.

Pressing ENTER after providing all of your background information is sort of like pushing the plunger that will detonate a load of dynamite under your confidential personal and financial information. Upon receipt of your data, the folks behind this phishing fraud will use your information to alter your phone account, order all sorts of mobile phones, and leave you much worse and poorer for the experience. 

Grandma, Grandpa, HELP !!!

IC3 has also called attention to what has become popularly known as the  "Grandparent Scam." This fraud involves phone calls, emails, or instant messages from someone claiming to be a relative in trouble -- usually this individual tells you a tale of having been arrested or having been in a car accident in a foreign country (among the more common locales are Canada, Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala, and Peru). They need your help. Urgently. Immediately. Please, please, please, I beg you -- they will say -- send me money. Here's the wire instructions. In a variation on this scheme, you may be contacted by someone pretending to be an attorney, police officer, or some government official.  At times, the messages appeal to the sender's grandparents -- hence the origin of the name.

Regardless of the initial set-up, the endgame is the same: Send money. ASAP. Here are the wire instructions. Oh, and just for your edification, if you try to trace the call, say by redialing the number retained on your phone, you will likely just wind up at a computer-generated telephone number or the number of someone whose number was compromised via spoofing.

Where Victims Can Turn

If you have been victimized by online crime, you can file an online Complaint with IC3. To do so,  you will need to provide:
  • Your name
  • Your mailing address
  • Your telephone number
  • The name, address, telephone number, and Web address, if available, of the individual or organization you believe defrauded you
  • Specific details on how, why, and when you believe you were defrauded
  • Any other relevant information you believe is necessary to support your complaint.
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