Telephone Preference Service Scam

Graham received a call on his landline.

The lady caller addressed Graham by name and claimed to be from the Telephone Preference Service and knew that Graham was already registered.

She told him that his registration would expire and he needed to be re-registered.

She also knew Graham’s postcode and the fact she knew these details was convincing that she was genuinely calling from the Telephone Preference Service.

But she then passed Graham over to another person for re-registration and that person had a thick accent that made understanding him very difficult and he was far less professional.

He asked Graham for his “pay number”.

Graham asked “What is a pay number?”

“The number on your cheque book or bank statement” was the answer.

Graham now knew this was a scam – no respectable organisation would ask for sort code and account details like this, plus the Telephone Preference Service is free and doesn’t need any re-registration.

Graham told them what he thought of them and put the phone down.

A wise move.

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

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Stupidest Scam of The Week – Chinese Emails

An email from a Chinese company that is “glad to know that you are looking for toroidal choke coils and transformers for your products”.

I don’t think local radio stations typically sell equipment containing industrial transformers.

Mr Tang seems to have a problem knowing which company he works for.

The email is from tce-electronic.com but the signature on the message is from tce-electronics.com. Only one letter difference but that makes for separate companies.

He is proud of his products “Out products have acquired such certificates as UL, CE, CQC 7 RoHS”

It doesn’t say they actually have any certificates but that they have such as …

Just a typical strange email claiming to be from a Chinese company.

Do not reply.

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U.S. Breaks Indian Scam Call Centre

U.S. authorities have sentenced 21 people in connection with an India-based call centre scam that cost Americans hundreds of millions of dollars.

Defendants were given sentences of up to 20 years in prison, in what U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called “the first-ever large-scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call centre scam industry.”

According to the U.S. Justice Department, the sophisticated operation revolved around call centres in Ahmedabad, India, from where individuals called American citizens while posing as officials with Internal Revenue Services or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Victims were told that they owed the government money, and were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines and deportation if they didn’t pay up. Those who gave in to the scam were made to pay using wire transfers, direct bank deposits or iTunes and other gift cards.

Once payment was received, the scammers contacted a network of runners in the U.S. who would launder the payments.

The scammers set out to defraud older Americans, legal immigrants and many others out of their life savings through lies and threats. Because of this, all resources at the Department’s disposal will be deployed to shut down these telefraud schemes, put those responsible in jail and bring a measure of justice to the victims, according to Attorney General Sessions.

The indictment also charged 32 Indian-based conspirators, who have yet to be arraigned.

The US authorities seem to be the only International player willing and able to take on the organised international fraudsters, root out these criminals and prosecute them.

Well done the U.S. Authorities and the Indian Police.

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

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Dixons Carphone Data Breach

Dixons Carphone admitted there had been a data breach in 2017 which included 5.8 million credit and debit cards.  105,000 of those cards are not the chip-and-pin type. The chip and pin cards are assumed to be safe from fraud but this may be a false assumption.

Apparently, the hackers had tried to gain access to one of the processing systems used by Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores.

Dixons also announced that the personal details of 1.2 million people (name, address, email address) may have been exposed.

STOP PRESS: Dixons Carphone has just increased that estimate from 1.2 million to 10 million people whose information may have been compromised.

Dixons Carphone said it had no evidence that any of the cards had been used fraudulently following the breach.

The incident happened before the new GDPR regulation came into force or Dixons Carphone would be looking at potentially much higher fines than currently expected.

Dixons Carphone said that “unauthorised access” of data held by the company had prompted an investigation, the hiring of external security experts and efforts to shore up its security defences. It has informed police, regulators at the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Financial Conduct Authority.

The data about these cards that may have been compromised does not contain PIN numbers or the CVV number and does not contain authentication data that would enable cardholder identification or a purchase to be made.  At least that’s the theory, but hackers and scammers can use starting information to get access to more information and then perpetrate fraud.

“The National Cyber Security Centre is working with Dixons Carphone plc and other agencies to understand how this data breach has affected people in the UK and advise on mitigation measures.

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A Little Truth from Facebook

Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos resigned from Facebook in March 2018 and implored his colleagues to take responsibility for the social network’s failings.

He sent a note to employees attributing the social network’s problems to “tens of thousands of small decisions made over the last decade.”

His comments included:-

  • We need to build a user experience that conveys honesty and respect, not one optimised to get people to click yes to giving us more access.
  • We need to intentionally not collect data where possible, and to keep it only as long as we are using it to serve people.
  • We need to listen to people (including internally) when they tell us a feature is creepy or point out a negative impact we are having in the world.
  • We need to deprioritize short-term growth and revenue.
  • We need to be open, honest and transparent about challenges and what we are doing to fix them.

These are all issues that many people outside of Facebook have known about the company for a long time – the company is nasty, self-serving, greedy and obnoxious but it’s good to hear a senior insider trying to get the message through to his colleagues at Facebook.

Let’s hope someone listens.

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Free Website Audit Report

There are numerous versions of the basic email message about a free website audit.

This is because most of these messages aren’t from professional scammers but from people desperate to get work in the fields of website design, search engine optimisation, digital advertising etc.

The problem with these emails is that they are often full of lies. People seem to think it is acceptable to lie when writing Sales/Marketing messages BUT IT ISN’T.

An example from one of the more courteous versions sent to the radio station.

 “Hope you are fine. I was going through your website and I found it impressive!!! However when I search for your business keywords I see your competitors ranked on 1st page whereas I am unable to see your website anywhere on the 1st page of Google.

Then lots of stuff about why you have to be on the 1st page of Google to be noticed.

The website URL is never mentioned therefore he hasn’t looked at it.

He hasn’t searched for our business keywords as he clearly doesn’t know what they are.

He says our competitors are on 1st page Google.

What competitors are those? He clearly has no idea.

Then a list of issues with our website and these issues are all very general as he has not looked at our site and hopes by luck to find a fault that either our site does have or one that would worry us.

  • Low online presence for many competitive keywords
  • Unorganised social media accounts
  • Not compatible with all mobile devices

Then he mentions the audit report for our website which he has already prepared and will send us free of charge.

There is software that will automatically analyse websites and prepare a list of recommendations.

Presumably he could use such software to prepare a report if we actually replied saying we wanted to see it.

The whole email is a pack of lies, sadly. The company name and email address seem to be genuine and based in India and Singapore but that’s the only true part.

If you want website design, SEO or other such services then find a local company that has good customer reviews and can provide what you want but never reply to or try working with people who send out such blatant lies.

If you want a free audit report of your website – there are numerous ones available on the Internet, but do understand the reports are generic and every website is different which the automatic reports cannot recognise.

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