Category: Website Scam

Janet And the Fake Emissions Zone Website

Janet seldom drove her car into London, but on this occasion needed to and at some point crossed into the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and hence would have to make a payment.

Later, a quick Google on her computer gave her the website and she entered her details and paid for the day’s journey into the ULEZ.

That evening, she did think about the payment and that £19.99 seemed a strange figure and she checked online – the correct figure due was £12.50, so why had she been charged £19.99 instead?

She still had the website window open and everything looked correct except for that figure. Checking again – it was clear it was a fraud. Scammers had setup a fake website that mimicked the real one and had bought Google advertising to get their fake website to the top of the Google listing for Ultra Low Emission Zone

Janet reported the fake website to Transport for London who suggested she report it to Action Fraud, which she did, and to her credit card company.

It is possible she will get the payment back from the credit card company but days later a penalty notice for £80 arrived for failure to pay the ULEZ fee. She complained to Transport for London but as far as they are concerned, she hadn’t paid the fee therefore she has to pay the penalty.  Janet has appealed against the penalty notice.

An unfortunate mistake by Janet cost her £19.99 paid to scammers but seems it will cost her a further £80.

Sometimes these scams have far worse consequences as the scammers get hold of your confidential information and sell it to other scammers who may take out loans in your name or make other use of your online identity.

Do not trust the top website on a Google search to be the official one – check carefully.

Have you been caught out by this scam – if so, do let me know, by email.

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The US Esta Scam

UK residents make around 4.9 million visits to USA each year.  The vast majority of those visits just need an ESTA to be filled in and submitted. These give the visitor 90 days of access to the USA.

Some scammers target specific things such as people who need to travel to the USA and formulate a scam to try to catch those people.

They rely on sending out huge volumes of these scam messages in order to catch enough people to make the scam worthwhile.

The message is from mailer@applymyesta.com>

This e-mail is in regards to your Travel authorization to USA. The ESTA Visa which you need to travel to The United States of America has expired and needs to be renewed.

Kindly, visit the website https://www.applymyest a.com/usa/esta/apply# to renew your visa or to put in a fresh application.

THANKS AND REGARDS, APPLICATION TEAM

It is a scam website that will steal your confidential information which then gets sold to other scammers or to identity thieves.

If you need an ESTA for a visit to the USA then find the correct government we site – never truest the links in unsolicited emails.

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Google Hangouts Scams

Google Hangouts is messaging, video chat, and VOIP features. It replaced three messaging products – Google Talk, Google+ Messenger and Hangouts.  Google has announced that it will be for replaced sometime in 2020.

Unfortunately, Google Hangouts can attract undesirables, because users are largely untraceable.

Sometimes, people with malicious intent ask you to use Hangouts because you cannot trace them. Hangouts provides them with a way to hide and be in control. If someone you just met online wants to switch to Hangouts for conversations, then be careful as they may be a scammer engaging in conversation as a prelude to the scam.

If you get an invite that seems suspicious, you can block and report that user by clicking on “reject” on the invite.

The scammers start by creating false profiles, typically on social media sites, dating sites etc. They find their victims and then correspond with a lot of people simultaneously using a pre-arranged script. They may ask for money for a  visa or tell you a sob story about being mugged or sick or have a dying relative – anything to get money from you.

These are standard scammer tactics – do not be fooled.

Be careful on Google Hangouts.

If you have any experiences with scammers on Hangouts – do let me know, by email.

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The Fake Marriage Rebate

There is a marriage allowance worth £250 that can be claimed from HMRC each year.

Marriage Allowance Limited has taken to sending out letters and emails to people advising them to get this rebate and they will do it for you. What they don’t tell people is that although the claim is free, the company charges 42% plus a processing fee and that doesn’t leave much of the rebate remaining to actually get to the tax payer.

Their website is designed to make people believe it is HMRC.

This activity is legal as they don’t explicitly claim to be from HMRC and the company runs similar operations targeting other tax allowances.

As always, read messages carefully to see who they are actually from, be careful with Google searches not to just pick the top of the list in case it’s an advert and the official site you want is lower down the list.

If you want to claim the marriage allowance, go to www.gov.uk/apply-marriage-allowance or call 0300 200 3300

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The eCommerce Store Scam

There are many fake websites able to do eCommerce  I.e. take money from you for products even if the products don’t exist.

But a recent set of emails are the first ones offering to create a store for you from scratch and to reach £10,000 in sales within 50 days.

That is an odd combination of promises. Do they really build eCommerce websites for people and ensure plenty of customers?

Seems very unlikely. More likely is that the entire thing is jut a con – no website, no eCommerce and no sales.

The email is from a Gmail address rather than a company address, the email is sent out to random people,  the grammar is terrible, there are many text words used rather than correct English (e.g. plz instead of please) and the whole thing is very amateurish.

It’s a con.

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

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Unwanted Spam Links

This is not about spam emails or scam emails with dodgy links in them.

This is about finding that someone has added spam links into your website without permission.

Hackers can insert spam links into your website – to gain a better ranking on search engines. The more inbound links a site receives, the higher the placement of the target web site in search results. Spam links are typically inserted into the database content in plain text, though they can also be deliberately obscured to make finding them more difficult.

Spam links can be inserted in site files or databases, so determining if your site is infected can often be done by simply reading the pages and looking for  inappropriate links.

The most common spam links are:-

  • Prescription drugs
  • Online gambling
  • Essay writing services
  • Film & TV downloads
  • Fake designer goods
  • Weight loss products
  • Adult content

Finding and Removing Spam Links

This means painstaking review of the code to find the inserted links. The links may be  inserted as typical hypertext links or they may be disguised by JavaScript for example. Determine which links are not relevant to your site and remove them.

For hackers to have inserted these links into your website means there must be vulnerabilities that they exploited. You need to find these vulnerabilities and fix them or the hackers may return.

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