Category: Warning

Sim Swap Danger

Temporary loss of your mobile phone can be a big inconvenience but loss of your phone number to scammers can be much worse.

If you’d lost the phone, you would call the phone company or visit on of their shops and explain to the assistant that you need a new phone and your contract etc. transferred to that new phone.

The Sim Swap fraud makes use of a mobile phone service provider’s ability to easily transfer a telephone number to a device containing a different sim card.

The scam begins with a scammer collecting personal details about the victim, either by use of phishing emails, by buying the information from other criminals.

The scammer then contacts the victim’s mobile telephone provider and uses the information they have to convince the telephone company to transfer the victim’s phone number to the fraudster’s SIM. This usually means impersonating the victim using personal details to appear authentic and claiming that they have lost their phone.

More and more people and businesses rely on mobile phones for proof of identity. e.g. your bank may send you security numbers to type into your account to prove your ID but if scammers can access your phone and read your messages, they are in control.

So, if the scammers get your calls and texts sent to them instead, they can use the forgotten password option on many accounts to have new password sent to them and you wont know any of this is going on..

They may gain access to your bank account, retail accounts etc.

If a scammer attempts this fraud, you may receive SMS messages or email prior to a SIM swap taking place. If you didn’t action this request you must contact your bank and phone provider immediately.

If the scammer successfully transfers your number to their phone, then your phone may lose signal or become unable to make calls, send messages or use data. Report this immediately.

If you have any experience with this sim swap scam, do let me know, by email.

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Stupidest Spam of the Week Website Links

Everyone with a website or blog wants lots of people to see it. There are many ways to achieve this but helping people to find it on search engines is the most popular method for most people.

One of the ways to improve the likelihood of a website coming high in Google search or other online search engines is to create lots of backlinks i.e. links from other people’s website to that one.

These should be created properly i.e. by getting links in sites related to yours and where the link is relevant and meaningful e.g. a link to Brooklands Radio from a retailer who plays Brooklands Radio in their premises or from an artist featured on Brooklands Radio or from a local business that advertises on Brooklands Radio.

However, lots of unscrupulous people try to bypass this slow process by buying links from link sellers. They charge typically $20 – $50 for hundreds of links to be created.

These are usually very poor links in that they are from sites with no relevance to your web site and probably stuffed with hundreds or thousands of such meaningless links. Google and other search engines recognise this and ignore any links from those sites.

This latest email says “We provide guest post and link placement on our fitness and health site for $95 per link”. 

That’s extremely expensive compared to other link providers.

No-one in their right mind would actually pay this, especially as the email is from a Gmail account which means there is no business and no business website, just a dumb scammer.

The last line in the email says “The price is negotiable.” which reeks of desperation.

Too bad, loser.

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OneCoin Cryptocurrency Scammer in Court

Mark Scott, a US lawyer accused of laundering proceeds from the OneCoin cryptocurrency – alleged to be a Ponzi scheme scam – went on trial in New York. He was accused of laundering approximately $400 million through hedge funds and transferring that back to his colleagues.

OneCoin claims to be a digital currency similar to Bitcoin and the founders are thought to have raised an estimated $4bn worldwide, including millions from the UK, since it began in 2015.

It was founded in Bulgaria by Dr Ruja Ignatova, who disappeared in 2017 and her brother Konstantin Ignatov, who ran the company in her absence and has since been arrested in the US.

The Sales Pitch

Dr Ruja, told her audience that the future belonged to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which had made millions for many investors and were free of the high cost of traditional banking.

She offered an alternative – a perfectly safe cryptocurrency of her own devising called OneCoin. She exhorted people to join this financial revolution that would become bigger than Bitcoin within a few years

It is estimated that up to 70,000 people in the UK may have invested with OneCoin and hence lost everything.

It appears to have been a fraud from the beginning as investors trying to retrieve their money found out, when they couldn’t get anything back.

The banks realised it was a scam and stopped doing business with OneCoin. So Ruja moved to using money laundering with people such as Mark Scott.

The officials are keenly trying to find Ruja to put her on trial as well.

If you have any experiences with Onecoin, do let me know, by email.

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Twitter Pay for Followers

On Twitter, there are lots of profiles that advertise they will get you thousands of extra Twitter followers for a fee.

There are also such ads on spam mail, websites etc.

This is quite legal of course, although disliked by Twitter.

e.g. – offers several packages including 100 Twitter followers for $15 or 2,500 followers for $50.

There are numerous other such people making similar offers.

It may seem a good idea to get more followers the quick way – more people will see your blog or website, may attract even more followers and if you’re selling something then you need to get followers.

BUT, people who find your Twitter feed, like it for whatever reason and decide to follow you are the people you need and are likely candidates to work with you, buy from you etc.

However, if you buy followers, then these are very likely to be

  1. Robot accounts i.e. no real person
  2. Fake accounts setup simply to get paid for following
  3. Entirely useless to you as there isn’t a person there interested in you
  4. A problem for Twitter who may regard you as a spammer or criminal causing this problem

Get More Followers

If you want more followers, then the obvious starting point is to create more and better content that people will want to see and tell their friends about.

Twitter adverts –Twitter shows your selected posts to more people.  These people may, if your content is appealing, choose to follow you and you only pay Twitter for each new follower. No money wasted.

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

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What is Pharming?

Pharming combines the words “phishing” and “farming” to indicate large scale phishing attempts.

Phishing is online fraud where a scammer tries to trick you into giving them your personal information e.g. login and password, bank details etc. The scammer does this by pretending to be someone you would trust – e.g. a government department or a high street brand or BT or British gas etc.

The scammer gets you to click a link, believing it is to a reputable organisation but it is the scammer’s website and will steal your confidential information.

Pharming is the large scale version of this and involves either downloading malicious code to your computer which then redirects your browser to the scammer’s website, unbeknownst to you. Or it can involve changes to your Internet router that again automatically redirect your browser without your knowledge.

The Panix Attack

On 15th January 2005, the domain name for a large New York ISP, Panix, was hijacked and redirected to a website in Australia. The domain was restored two days later and ICANN’s review blames Melbourne IT. It appears they received a  DNS change request and did not did not get express authorisation from the registrant in accordance with ICANN’s Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy.

Protection Against Pharming

Make sure you have strong passwords in place, anti-virus and anti-malware installed and staff are trained to avoid suspicious websites, links in emails, not to open unexpected attached files etc.

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