Category: Scammer

FBI Take Down 74 Business Email Scammers

The FBI call this scam “Business Email Compromise” (BEC).

It’s when a scammer gets the email address of a senior member of a business and impersonates them in emails asking for money to be transferred to an outside account and it is a very common and sadly quite lucrative scam.

It is a rapidly rising scam and estimated to cost business some hundreds of millions of dollars last year.

The FBI report that the elderly, art galleries and collectors, and real estate purchasers have also found themselves targets over the last few years.

The FBI worked with law enforcement agencies from four continents to takedown a ring of cybercriminals responsible for a series of business e-mail compromise schemes. According to the Department of Justice, the scams led to $14 million in phony wire transfers.

The exercise was called Operation Wire Wire and resulted in the seizure of $2.4M, 42 arrests across the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland.

The FBI thanked the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Toronto Police Service, the Mauritian Attorney-General and the Commissioner of Police, Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation, Indonesian National Police Cyber Crimes Unit, and the Royal Malaysia Police, for assisting them in the operation.

23 of the U.S. arrests were made in the state of Florida where individuals reportedly laundered roughly $10M from BEC scams. Another scam in Connecticut resulted in the loss of $2.6 million.

For one attack the FBI enlisted the help of the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit. Those arrested – a pair of Nigerian nationals living in Texas – allegedly sent a real estate closing attorney an email asking for $246,000 be wired to their account. The victim lost $130,000 after the bank was notified of the fraud and froze $116,000.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Surrey Police Stop Phone Scammer

Brandon Hurst of Hounslow, posed as a bank fraud investigator and scammed two ladies 88 and 70, out of just under £6,000.

He was caught and has been sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and has to do community service and pay back nearly £6,000.

He phoned his victims and claimed to be calling from bank fraud investigation departments of Barclays or Santander.

He told them there had been fraudulent activity on their accounts and convinced them to return their bank cards to the bank. He got them to provide their PIN number as well.

To convince them he was calling from the bank he used the stay on the line trick. He told them to check the bank’s fraud number and call it but he stayed on the line and the victims were just talking to him again.

He arranged for a courier to collect the cards and the victims believed the cards would be taken back to the bank but they went to Hurst instead where he could then spend on the cards.

If you get any suspicious callers claiming to be from your bank then use a separate phone to call the bank to check and do not do as requested unless you are totally sure the caller is from your bank. Some scammers may already have some of your information such as the account number so do not be fooled by this.

Let’s hope the prison sentence can teach this man to pursue a life that doesn’t prey on vulnerable people.

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Men in Space Suits Scam

Two men dressed in homemade spacesuits claimed they had a deal with NASA and could generate electricity “from thunderbolts” but have been arrested for fraud.

Indian police tweeted a picture of the father and son duo wearing crinkly silver material and floppy topped helmets after a businessman complained he had been duped out of £156,000.

Virender Mohan Brar, and Nitin Mohan Brar, claimed they would be able to sell a device called the “rice puller” to NASA once it was ready.

They were confident and spoke in fluent English, police said, wore branded clothes and expensive watches and travelled in luxury cars with two armed security guards.

It is believed the pair duped at least 30 other people.

Mr Saini was allegedly told by the accused that he was paying for “anti-radiation suits” that scientists would wear during testing.

Deputy commissioner of police Bhisham Sing said the duo “roped in fake actors posing as Defence Research and Development Organisation officials just to convince Saini about the authenticity of the equipment”.

Already on bail accused of selling snakes with “medicinal qualities” for more than $25,000 each, the pair told potential victims they were developing a device that could be used to generate “electricity from thunderbolts”.

They promised it would be sold to NASA and India’s space agency for hundreds of millions of dollars, police said.

Images of the accused fraudsters in radiation suits alongside crime branch investigators were widely shared on Indian social media, where comments compared the duo’s antics to “a low-budget C-grade Bollywood movie”.

Their fake device was apparently based on rare copper “that had been struck by a thunderbolt” so that it could magnetise rice, police explained.

A copper plate covered in a thin magnetic liquid and rice mixed with iron filings were used to show off the machine.

The New Delhi businessman became suspicious when promised experiments were repeatedly called off, mainly because of bad weather.

As scams go this one is quite audacious though remarkably silly.

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Scam List

The Comparitech website has a comprehensive list of common scams at https://www.comparitech.com/vpn/avoiding-common-scams-schemes/

Scammers keep thinking up new ways to steal our property, money or identity but most scams are rehashed versions of old scams.

Everything from Advance Fee scams to Charity scams to Phishing scams to Scam Compensation Scams to Stock Market Pump and Dump scams.

If something seems too good to be true then chances are it’s a scam.

Keep your money and your identity safe.

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Automated Scam Calls

PPI callers and many others have been using automated systems for years that call and ask you questions then get you to press a button to be connected to an agent.

Automated systems are a lot cheaper than staff so for the criminals engaged in large scale scamming, this can be the most efficient way.

Action Fraud Technical Support Scam Calls

Action Fraud say people are receiving cold-calls from fraudsters claiming to represent Action Fraud. When the calls are answered, an automated voice asks the responder to “press 1 if you have made a report to Action Fraud.” When the responder presses 1, they are transferred to a fraudster.

Victims are informed that their computers have been hacked, which has led to their online bank account being compromised and funds being withdrawn. One particular victim was told that £40,000 had fraudulently left their account.

The scammer may ask for remote access to the victim’s computer, via a remote access tool. Once the scammer has that, they may be able to access confidential information, login and passwords, credit card details etc.

HMRC

The scam sees people called randomly with an automated message warning that they are under investigation by HMRC and need to call the number given or “face serious legal consequences.”

If you call back the crooks will likely ask for your bank details and make off with your money.

HMRC does not make threatening phone calls. HMRC will call people about outstanding tax bills, and sometimes use automated messages, however it would include your taxpayer reference number.

Talk Talk Example

“I have had an automated phone call from this number 081233472243. It was informing me that my internet connection would be cut at 1pm today, press button 1 to speak to an agent or button 2 to stay connected. I chose to hang up.

This is the first time I have had an automated call, I have had a lot of calls lately concerning my internet connection, I always hang up or sometimes they hang up when I tell them I don’t believe they’re from TalkTalk. They always ask me to turn my computer on, I always refuse.”

Good job she didn’t fall for the scam.

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The State of Scamming in Australia

Government statistics show that 161,528 reports of scammers were raised with the Australian Authorities in 2017, of which 8.7% involves financial loss.

Total lost estimated to be $90 million.

The biggest chunk of this was to investment scams (approx. $34M), then dating and romance scams (approx. $22M), then business and employment scams (approx.$7M).

Following those were advance fee fraud, buying and selling scams, false billing, inheritance scams, remote access scams, threats to life and finally betting scams.

The age group that lost the most money was the over 65s.

The most common scams reported are:-

  1. Phishing
  2. Identity theft
  3. False billing
  4. Lottery scams
  5. Buying and selling scams
  6. Rebate scams
  7. Remote access scams
  8. Advance fee Fraud
  9. Threats to Life
  10. Online Shopping Scams

Beware of those scammers.

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