Category: Scammer

The Traffic Monsoon Ponzi Scheme


Pyramid investment scheme worth £160MILLION shut down after taking money from 162,000 people

Traffic Monsoon, which is run by Charles Scoville, claimed to make people money through online advertising ‘AdPacks’. Mr.  Scoville, an American “entrepreneur” has a history of similar schemes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission stated that “Traffic Monsoon’s advertising business is an illusion designed to obscure the fact that it is offering and selling a pure Ponzi scheme” . “Over 99% of Traffic Monsoon’s revenue comes from the sale of AdPacks”.

“The company has virtually no other revenue from any other source”.

ADPACKS

Everyone who joined bought AdPacks at $50 each (£38) and was required to click on 50 banner adverts each day, staying on each for five seconds. It’s this online traffic that members were told would generate income, but it didn’t.

In April, PayPal notified Scoville that his business had the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme  and in time froze the company’s funds – approximately $61 million. Scoville continued to sell Adpacks even though he couldn’t pay anyone.

The PayPal freeze ended on July 11, and Scoville transferred $25.6 million out of the PayPal account into a separate Traffic Monsoon account and immediately transferred $21 million of those funds into his own personal account.

He attempted to transfer additional funds out of the PayPal account, but PayPal stopped this.

Scovile continues to maintain his company is genuine and posted he on Facebook – “For those of you who read the report and wonder why I moved funds from the business account to my personal…it truly was to protect those funds”.  Some people still believe in him and a petition has been launched on Change.org to raise money for Scoville.

The company has taken in $207 million dollars in actual cash, but on paper Traffic Monsoon had generated $738 million dollars in revenue.  Clearly that extra revenue does not exist and only by continually increasing the number of new members buying adpacks could the scheme continue to pay out, until its inevitable collapse.

Had the SEC of not stepped in, Scoville and the funds may have disappeared.

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

Security Blogger Scams the Scammer

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A French security blogger named Ivan Kwiatkowski was incensed when scammers tried to scam his parents by pretending to be Microsoft helping them sort out virus problems.

Ivan decided to find out more about these scammers and see if he could turn the tables on them. He called the number his parents had called and a lady named Patricia answered. He spun her a yarn about his computer having problems with Zeus virus and could she help.

Oh yes she could.

It is typical with these scams, for the scammer to install software on the victim’s PC supposedly to ‘see how bad the problem is’ but in fact to use a cheat so as to show the extent of the ‘fake’ problem’ and maybe to look for credit card details and passwords etc.

Ivan had setup a PC off the network so he could let the scammer have a look around safely.

He allowed Patricia to take control of the PC and install her software. She told him she’d found that the PC had 1452 viruses and she could supply anti-virus software and fix it for $189.90. Ivan told her he’d buy the software in Paris where he lives and the conversation ended, to the scammers surprise.

But Ivan wasn’t finished yet – he phoned back and spoke with a new scammer, Dileep, who checked the situation and offered to clean the PC of viruses and install anti-virus protection for $299.99.

Ivan offered to buy the package but when it came to giving credit card details – he had fake card details to use but pretended he couldn’t read very well so when the card number was rejected he claimed poor eyesight was the problem. After numerous attempts he had a brainwave. Ivan had j.Locky ransomware on disk as he had been researching it recently.

He convinced Dileep to accept a photo of the card so he could read the numbers himself, but Ivan send the photo with j.Locky attached.

The scammer didn’t know it but j.Locky would be busy in the background encrypting all of his files then would demand a ransom to have them released.

Scam the scammer.

Nice one Ivan

To read the original account of the scam, go to https://blog.kwiatkowski.fr/?q=en/node/30

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

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The Psychology of Scammers

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There is a lot of evidence about scammers and how they operate.

There are scammers that operate a number of different scams but many seem to find one that works for them then stick to it.

The many Nigerian 419 scammers are an example of sticking to the same game plan. They tempt people with a very large sum of money – usually in the millions and tell a highly improbably story of why the money is available. But with such a large amount of money as the enticement then for many people that overcomes their disbelief and they pay the advance fee which might be called a processing fee or release fee or Police charge or whatever.  The scammer gets the advance fee and of course the large amount of money does not exist.

Most people know of theses scams, so why do the scammers stick to it instead of changing?

They enjoy the challenge, they stick to what they know, why change your plan when you can make the current one work? There are always more people to scam.

There are financial scams so complex that even few experts can understand how they work and at the other end of the spectrum are the incredibly simple scams such as sending out spam emails saying in a lot more words

“We have a large sum of money in your name and will be happy to send this too you once we verify your identity. Please  provide a photograph of your passport or driving licence, your full name and address and contact details”

Some people will answer this with the information which the scammer can then sell on to other scammers.

Are the scammers motivated just by money?

No, many do chase the money, but  for a lot it’s more about the game – winning, showing superiority over the victims who fall for the scams, the badge of honour of taking money from people and giving nothing in return. For some its excitement – getting away with illegal activities and not getting caught. For some, it’s all they know to do.

Many scam messages are childishly inept – poor grammar, spelling mistakes, odd use of words, poor quality layout etc. For some this may be genuine mistakes .e.g  a poor translation from another language but often it is deliberate. The scammers often don’t want to catch people who will realise it’s a scam – they want the most believing and easily conned hence the mistakes to put off anyone who stops to think about the likelihood of the story being true. In this case, implausibility is the scammer’s friend.

Finally, if you get a cold caller trying to scam you, you won’t be able to talk them out of it and you won’t be able to shame them out if it.  Scammers make a clear decision to con people out of money and that’s what they stick to.

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Carol’s Story of Dealing with Lloyd Loom of Spalding

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A guest post by Carol.

I was looking to buy some bedroom furniture – a bedside table and a couple of other items.  I knew the name Lloyd Loom was a good British make and searched on the Internet for what I wanted.

I found a supplier (Lloyd Loom of Spalding) with stock and chose the items. I received an invoice online and paid by bank transfer (nearly £1,000). This felt safe as the “company” has a good reputation.

I did speak with the supplier and he seemed very helpful. He could deliver to Cornwall without any problem. He sent a set of swatches so I could pick the exact colour I wanted.

Over the next period, I received regular updates from the supplier but no furniture. There was no difficulty contacting him and I still believed the furniture would arrive.

But it didn’t.

I had paid by bank transfer and the bank tried to recover the money but the account had been emptied and I wasn’t able to get any money back.

 

Below is an update by Wikipedia.

Lloyd Loom of Spalding Ltd. and Lloyd Loom Weave Ltd., a subsidiary, entered Creditors voluntary liquidation at Companies House in February 2016. The factory in Wardentree Lane, Pinchbeck, was emptied under the instruction of company director Anthony Draxler just before Christmas 2015, with production machinery then apparently shipped to Romania.

Staff who have been laid off say they are owed up to 14 weeks’ wages and some ex-workers claim agreed redundancy terms have not been settled.

Several firms are owed money by Lloyd Loom Furniture Ltd – a subsidiary of Lloyd Loom of Spalding.

Lloyd Loom Furniture Ltd. was placed under a HMRC Winding up Petition and is now in liquidation.

A police investigation has been undertaken into Anthony Draxler due to unfulfilled customer orders. A Lincolnshire Police spokesman said: “There is an enquiry under way in relation to this business and an individual involved with it.”

As of 20 January 2016 a new company Lloyd Loom Spalding Limited was registered at Companies House.

BE WARNED Anthony Draxler is believed to be behind this latest venture.

Please note that Lloyd Loom is a style of furniture making and that there are other Lloyd Loom companies that are respectable and have no connection with Anthony Draxler and his companies.

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Fake Text Messages From Loved Ones

This fake message is designed to overcome your natural suspicion by using a name you may be familiar with and that the person needs help.

Fake Text Message

If you don’t know a Sarah then you’ll probably guess it’s either a fake or intended for someone else.

But if you have a daughter or sister or wife or friend named Sarah then you might fall for this and text back.

If you do, the text will cost you a lot (premium number) plus the return message will go about what happened and how she desperately needs money for hospital bills or some such thing.  It probably will also have some story about why she’s not on her normal phone number – broken phone, lost phone,  confiscated phone etc.

 

If the scammers have been watching your social media then they know your child or siblings name and that they are away on holiday somewhere and can use that to make the texts realistic.

Think before you respond.

Facebook Phishing Scam

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There are numerous phishing emails and text messages that try to trick victims into giving away confidential information like account sign-on details or credit card numbers.

Usually, these messages claim the victim’s account has been frozen until they sign on again by clicking a link that leads to a bogus page imitating the real provider of the account.

These can usually be spotted easily but there is a new phishing scam. This is in the form of a comment  on an item on the user’s Facebook page.

The Scammer creates an account with an official sounding, security related name, so the victim may believe the comment has come from Facebook. The comment maker then warns that the user’s account is to be disabled unless the user verifies their details.

The warning says something like :

“Your page has been reported by others about the abuse, this is a violation of our agreement and may result in your page Disabled. Please verify your email account to prove this is your page and help us do more for security and comfort for everyone. Please check your account as proof of legitimate owner of the account that you use. Make sure you enter the correct details below.”

The message has two boxes for recipients to enter their email address and their Facebook password, along with date of birth details and a “Confirmation” button, which is linked to a bogus Facebook page.

In both cases, after providing their sign-on information, victims are asked for their credit card number.

The message warns: “Caution. If you do not update your credit card your payment page will be disabled.”

Sometimes, there’s also a link to a phony PayPal sign-on page.

This is quite a complex and well-executed scam but hopefully the poor wording will flag it up for what it really is. Even if Facebook stop this scam, other scammers are likely to will try something similar.

Facebook has pages of information and guidance about security and what to do in the event you think there is something suspicious in progress.

Sara Confronts a Local Business Scammer

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Sara ordered nearly a thousand pounds worth of window shutters  and six months later she says

“To date I have not received my shutters and I’m still trying to get my money back”

The business wouldn’t return her calls or respond to her emails.

She says “the only time I get through to him is calling him from telephone numbers which he doesn’t recognise. Since I placed my order he has changed his website and is trading under a new company name. He is still taking orders – and presumably money! – from customers. “

The Fightback Ninja heard what had happened and contacted Sara with an offer to publicise the story on his blog Fightback Ninja Blog and on his radio spot on Brooklands Radio.

Sara didn’t reply straightaway but instead forwarded the Ninja’s message to the company.

And suddenly they wanted to talk with her.

That’s the power of Radio. 

Cheats want to stay hidden from the glare of publicity.

Sara says “I finally got a reply from Mr X after I forwarded Fightback Ninja’s offer to do a case study on radio and the www. After learning of his circumstances, I didn’t want to add to his problems.The good news is the credit card company have upheld my claim so I’m not out of pocket which makes me more inclined to draw a line under the matter”.

Well done Sara (with a little help from the Fightback Ninja)

If you are scammed, don’t just accept it. Do whatever you can to get the money back and stop the scammer if possible. Also you should report the scam to Action Fraud.

US Government Takes Down PCCare247 Scammers

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The US government set up a sting operation to gather evidence against a company called PCCare247 which was defrauding people.

The Scam

This is a variant on the classic windows support engineer scam.

A cold caller tells you your PC has a virus, offers to prove it then offers to fix it for several hundred dollars or equivalent  in the local currency.

This variant is that PCCare247 advertised heavily that they help people sort out PC issues, but when someone called then PCarre247 would find faults that didn’t exist and charge a lot of money to rectify the non existent problems.

The Sting

Agent  Sheryl Novick phoned PCCare247 . “I saw some sort of pop-up and I don’t know if there’s a problem,” she told a PCCare247 tech named Yakeen. He offered to check her computer for possible problems and he convinced her to download a piece of software that let him take control of her PC.

Yakeen ran Event Viewer on the PC – this always shows lots of errors but they are trivial and should be ignored.

“It has 30 errors,” he told her and that her PC had been hacked by someone who was committing cyber fraud using it and also that there was a virus on the PC.

Yakeen promised that he could “remove all the hackers, remove all the errors and the virus from the computer and recover all the data?” All Novick needed was $400.

Novick agreed to a lower price and provided her credit card.

Yakeen didn’t know that Novick was actually a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigator and she had recorded the entire encounter, which had been conducted using a clean PC located within an FTC lab.

PCCare247 used the cash from this scam to build more business, spending more than $1 million advertising accounts on Google. The money bought “sponsored search results” that appeared when users searched for terms, including “virus removal.”

The FTC obtained a restraining order (TRO) against PCCare247, which made it all but impossible to do business in the US. Most of the company’s cash had already been transferred to Indian banks, but the TRO did shut down the company’s domain name, local phone numbers, and credit card processing. New money would not be flowing.

Well done the FTC.

http://fightbackonline.org/index.php/fightback/16-stories/24-us-government-takes-down-pccare247-scammers