Fraudulent Notifications

From the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

The IC3 continues to receive reports of letters and emails being distributed pursuant to prize sweepstakes or lottery schemes. These schemes use counterfeit checks that bear legitimate-looking logos of various financial institutions to fool victims into sending money to the fraudsters.

Fraudsters tell victims they won a sweepstakes or lottery, but to receive a lump sum payout, they must pay the taxes and processing fees upfront. Fraudsters direct individuals to call a telephone number to initiate a letter of instructions. The letter alleges that the victim may elect to take an advance on the winnings to make the required upfront payment. The letter includes a check in the amount of the alleged taxes and fees, along with processing instructions. Ultimately, victims believe they are using the advance to make the required upfront payment, but in reality they are falling prey to the scheme.

The victim deposits the check into their own bank, which credits the account for the amount of the check before the check clears. The victim immediately withdraws the money and wires it to the fraudsters. Afterwards, the check proves to be counterfeit and the bank pulls the respective funds from the victim’s account, leaving the victim liable for the amount of the counterfeit check plus any additional fees the bank may charge.

Persons may fall victim to this scheme due to the allure of easy money and the apparent legitimacy of the check the fraudsters include in the letter of instruction. The alleged cash prizes and locations of the financial institutions vary.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • A federal statute prohibits mailing lottery tickets, advertisements, or payments to purchase tickets in a foreign lottery. 

  • Be leery if you do not remember entering a lottery or sweepstakes. 

  • Beware of lotteries or sweepstakes that charge a fee prior to delivering your prize. 

  • Be wary of demands to send additional money as a requirement to be eligible for future winnings. 

If you have been a victim of this type of scam or any other cyber crime, you can report it to the IC3 at: www.IC3.gov. The IC3 complaint database links complaints for potential referral to law enforcement for case consideration. Complaint information is also used to identify emerging trends and patterns to alert the public to new criminal schemes.

Congratulations IC3!

On November 9th, 2010 the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) logged it’s 2 millionth customer!  This is an amazing number, especially when you consider that not all scams and fraud are even reported.

This is a good thing, since it means that people are reporting the scams, which will give the FBI, National While Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (the agencies that partnered together to form the IC3) more information to try and go after these people and help warn people about these scams.

The IC3 receives, develops, and refers cyber crime complaints to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies. The IC3 gives cyber crime victims a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations.

Since its inception, the IC3 has referred 757,016 criminal complaints to law enforcement around the globe. The majority of referrals involved fraud in which the complainant incurred a financial loss. The total reported loss from these referrals is approximately $1.7 billion, with a median reported loss of more than $500 per complaint.*

End of the year review

I would like to thank our friends at the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) for their post yesterday.

Education Remains the Best Defense Against Internet Fraud

2009 is turning out be a banner year for the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Experts predict the Center will end the year with close to 350,000 complaints. That’s a heck of a lot more than last year in which a record 275,284 complaints were received. 2010 will probably set another record.

While there is no doubt IC3 has become one of the most recognized vehicles for reporting online fraud today, the numbers have to date, only scratched the surface. Many experts believe the number of people who fall prey to credit card fraud, online auction fraud, phishing scams and the like, is actually far greater than the complaint numbers would indicate and cyber thieves aren’t letting up. If anything, they’re increasing their efforts to separate you and I from our money.

Consumers need to educate themselves to prepare for the coming decade and the wave of sophisticated scams that are sure to follow. There are a host of Web sites available that can help including:

http://www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com

www.scamvictimsunited.com

http://www.scambusters.org

If you do fall victim to online fraud, contact your local police right away and file a complaint with IC3 at http://www.ic3.gov. It only takes a couple of minutes and the information can help law enforcement bring the perpetrators to justice.

Pop-Up Security Warnings Pose Threats

Pop-Up Security Warnings Pose Threats

The FBI warned consumers today about an ongoing threat involving pop-up security messages that appear while they are on the Internet. The messages may contain a virus that could harm your computer, cause costly repairs or, even worse, lead to identity theft. The messages contain scareware, fake or rogue anti-virus software that looks authentic.

The message may display what appears to be a real-time, anti-virus scan of your hard drive. The scareware will show a list of reputable software icons; however, you can’t click a link to go to the real site to review or see recommendations. Cyber criminals use botnets—collections of compromised computers—to push the software, and advertisements on websites deliver it. This is known as malicious advertising or “malvertising.”

Once the pop-up warning appears, it can’t be easily closed by clicking the “close” or “X” buttons. If you click the pop-up to purchase the software, a form to collect payment information for the bogus product launches. In some instances, the scareware can install malicious code onto your computer, whether you click the warning or not. This is more likely to happen if your computer has an account that has rights to install software.

Downloading the software could result in viruses, malicious software called Trojans, and/or keyloggers—hardware that records passwords and sensitive data—being installed on your computer. Malicious software can cause costly damages for individual users and financial institutions. The FBI estimates scareware has cost victims more than $150 million.

Cyber criminals use easy-to-remember names and associate them with known applications. Beware of pop-up warnings that are a variation of recognized security software. You should research the exact name of the software being offered. Take precautions to ensure operating systems are updated and security software is current. If you receive these anti-virus pop-ups, close the browser or shut down your computer system. You should run a full anti-virus scan whenever the computer is turned back on.

If you have experienced the anti-virus pop-ups or a similar scam, notify the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by filing a complaint at http://www.ic3.gov.

Craigslist rental scam targets SC homeowners – WMBF News | Myrtle Beach/Florence,SC | News, Weather and Sports-

Craigslist rental scam targets SC homeowners – WMBF News | Myrtle Beach/Florence,SC | News, Weather and Sports-

We have seen victims of the Renter/Roommate scams for the past couple of years at Scam Victims United. Scammers will use many ways to find their victims.

Just remember, if someone sends you a cashier’s check, money order or travler’s check and wants you to cash it and wire any portion of it on to someone, or back to them IT IS A SCAM!

Internet Crime On The Rise

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released it’s 2008 Internet Crime Report today.  You can view report in full by going to http://www.fbi.gov/page2/march09/internet_033009.html

There was a 33% increase in complaints in 2008 over 2007, with an increase of $25 million lost.  Just think, if more could have been done to educate people about scams and warn them before they became victims, that is money that those people would still have in their pockets.

With the economy in the state that it is, we need to do EVERYTHING we can to protect the money that we have.  One way to do that would be to increase scam awareness with signs in the post offices, banks, Western Union and MoneyGram locations.  PSA would also do a lot to get the word out to the masses.