Search This Blog

Showing posts with label Scammers. Show all posts

Scammers in Russia Offer Free Bitcoin on a Hacked Government Website

 

The website of the Russian government was recently hacked. The fraudsters started a phoney Bitcoin (BTC) scheme, which they then re-published after being taken down several times. An unnamed gang of hackers began promoting the Free BTC Giveaway scam on the Ryazan administration's website, according to the local Russian news source Izvestia. 

Hackers had disputed the distribution of 0.025 BTC to everyone who installed the specified programme on their device in the aforementioned scam. In addition, the hackers added in the re-post that five lucky winners will each receive an extra $1,000. As of late, all messages, including the second post, have been removed. 

The Russian government has tightened its grip on all crypto-crime in the country. Last month, Russia's Federal Financial Monitoring Service in Moscow, known as Rosfinmonitoring, launched the latest cryptocurrency tracing system. This will deanonymize traders' identities by further analysing their actions and movements. The tracing system in Russia, according to Rosfinmonitoring, is focused on combating money laundering and terrorist funding rackets.

In 2021, the global volume of cryptocurrency-related fraud grew substantially. According to specialists from the IT security firm Zecurion, losses in the first half of this year were an estimated $1.5 billion, which is two to three times more than the sum recorded in the same period last year. According to a study released, the Russian Federation is responsible for 2% of the total — some $30 million, or over 2.2 billion rubles.

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) said in July that in the first six months of the year, it had discovered 146 financial pyramid schemes. In comparison to the same period in 2020, the number is 1.5 times greater. According to the regulators, consumers with poor financial literacy are frequently duped into investment schemes involving cryptocurrency or crypto mining. According to the CBR, the increase is due to increased activity by "unfair market participants" and increased investment demand in Russia. 

The primary reasons for the increase, according to analysts, are consumers' increasing exposure to digital assets as well as a desire to earn rapid profits in a burgeoning industry with few rules amid instability in traditional financial markets. They also predict crypto fraud to continue to climb this year, with an annual increase of 15% expected.

SEC: Watch Out for Hurricane Ida Related Investment Scams

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a warning about fraud associated with Hurricane Ida, which wreaked havoc in numerous states last week with torrential rain and tornadoes, leaving millions without power. 

The SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy releases investor alerts regularly to caution investors about the latest investment frauds and scams. Fraudsters would most likely target people who may receive compensation from insurance companies in the form of huge payouts as a direct result of Hurricane Ida's destruction. 

The SEC explained, “These scams can take many forms, including promoters touting companies purportedly involved in cleanup and repair efforts, trading programs that falsely guarantee high returns, and classic Ponzi schemes where new investors' money is used to pay money promised to earlier investors." 

"Some scams may be promoted through email and social media posts promising high returns for small, thinly-traded companies that supposedly will reap huge profits from recovery and cleanup efforts." 

AccuWeather CEO, Dr Joel Myers calculated that Hurricane Ida caused almost $95 billion in total damage and economic loss. Millions of individuals will now have to deal with insurance companies to cover the cost of water damage and other difficulties caused by the hurricane's aftermath. 

The SEC added that following the devastation by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they were compelled to take action against hundreds of false and misleading statements concerning alleged business prospects.

Precautionary Measures

In the context of mitigating the risk and preventive measures, SEC urged, "Be sceptical if you are approached by somebody touting an investment opportunity. Ask that person whether he or she is licensed and whether the investment they are promoting is registered with the SEC or with a state." 

"Take a close look at your entire financial situation before making any investment decision, especially if you are a recipient of a lump sum payment. Remember, your payment may have to last you and your family for a long time." 

This advisory follows the one issued by the FBI's New Orleans office, which warned the public about an elevated risk of scammers attempting to profit from the natural calamity. 

"Unfortunately, hurricane or natural disaster damage often provides opportunities for criminals to scam storm victims and those who are assisting victims with recovery," the FBI warned. 

The FBI also offered a list of safeguards that victims of natural disasters should follow to avoid getting scammed, including: 
  • Unsolicited (spam) emails should be ignored. 
  • Be cautious of anyone posing as government officials and requesting money via email. 
  • Clicking on links in unsolicited emails is not a fine decision. 
  • Only open attachments from known senders; be wary of emails purporting to have photos in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. 
  • Do not give out personal or financial information to anybody asking for donations; doing so might jeopardize your identity and leave you vulnerable to identity theft. 
  • Be vigilant of emails purporting to provide employment. 
  • Before transferring money to a potential landlord, do your research on the advertisement.

COVID19 Vaccine Fraudsters Targeted Health Authorities in 40 Countries

 

INTERPOL has issued a global alert regarding organized criminal organizations approaching governments and peddling COVID-19 vaccinations through fraudulent offers. 

After INTERPOL reported about 60 incidents from 40 nations, the international law enforcement organization sent a warning to all 194 member countries. 

The staff of hospitals and health ministries was targeted, with fraudsters promising to offer COVID-19 vaccinations that had been licensed for distribution in their respective countries. To mislead their victims, the hackers pretended to be executives of vaccine manufacturers or government officials in charge of vaccine distribution. 

To finalize the deal, the fraudsters targeted their victims' work and personal email accounts, as well as tried to contact them over the phone, cold calling, and pitched about fraudulent vaccines. The fraudsters' techniques should raise certain red flags as vaccination purchases are negotiated on a government level or, in the case of the European Union (EU), by a special Joint Negotiation Team.

Vaccine producers also played a key role in drafting the warning, since INTERPOL based it on information supplied by the manufacturers, stressing additional scam strategies such as the use of counterfeit websites and social media profiles. 

The INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock stated, “As we see with cybercrime, usually it is the private sector which has the most information about attacks and trends, which is exactly what has happened with these attempted vaccine scams. Even when a fraud fails, it is important that it is reported to the police so that potential links can be identified and also, as in the case of the alert INTERPOL has issued, to warn law enforcement about these threats.” 

He further said that with the pandemic still spreading and nations striving to vaccinate their citizens promptly and safely, the vaccine rollout process needed to be safeguarded from the beginning of the production process until the vaccines are distributed. 

An Ongoing Issue

INTERPOL and the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of the United States published a joint alert earlier this year advising against the purchase of fraudulent COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals have been highly active, attacking everyone from ordinary individuals to medical companies and government agencies engaged in the vaccine development, approval, and distribution process.  

Scammers have deployed a series of COVID-19 vaccine-related frauds in the past year, hacked an Oxford University research lab working on strategies to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, and even hacked the European Medicines Agency and disclosed stolen vaccine papers. 

To avoid being scammed, using a trustworthy security solution with a spam filter is one of the simplest ways to remain secure. If people get an unsolicited email from someone they don't know, they should be extremely cautious and look out for general red flags.

FTC Issued a Warning About Phishing Scams Involving Unemployment Benefits

 

Americans should be skeptical of text messages appearing to be from their state workforce agency, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Following the discovery of an SMS-based phishing effort targeting users of unemployment insurance benefits, the FTC has raised a red flag. In one year, consumers lost $57 million to phishing schemes, according to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

"Identity thieves are targeting millions of people nationwide with scam phishing texts aimed at stealing personal information, unemployment benefits, or both," said Seena Gressin, attorney at the division of consumer and business education at the FTC. As part of the effort, several fraudulent texts are being sent out. One advises the receiver that their unemployment insurance (UI) claim requires "necessary corrections." Another instructs the target to double-check their personal details.

A targeted user who clicks on a link in one of these messages will be directed to a fake website impersonating their state workforce agency, which Gressin described as "looking very real." Instructions on the site ask the user to enter a slew of personal information, including their login credentials and Social Security number. "Fraudsters can use the information to file fraudulent UI benefits claims or for other identity theft," warned Gressin.

Scammers love to target people when they are most vulnerable, knowing that they will be more likely to fall for the trap. That is especially true for people who are unemployed and rely on unemployment benefits to get by. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosed the information of seven different phishing texts that are now circulating. One reads "RI-DLT Labor: This is to notify you that your Rhode Island insurance claim account is currently on hold for verification. Please complete your verification by following the instruction link below to activate your account."

"As we continue to work our way through the pandemic and associated issues, unemployment insurance has become more and more important to people unable to work when jobs that match their skills are not available," said KnowBe4security awareness advocate Erich Kron. "With the recent rise in cases, due to the Delta variant and other factors, stress levels continue to rise for people impacted. This makes them prime candidates for attacks such as this, which threaten their only source of income."

Fake Windows 11 Installers are Being Used to Spread Malware

 

Although Windows 11 isn't expected to be released until later this year, hackers have already begun attempting to use it to infect victims with malware. On Friday, security firm Kaspersky warned that crooks were using bogus installers to take advantage of consumers eager to get their hands on the Microsoft operating system update, which is set to be released in the fall. 

“Although Microsoft has made the process of downloading and installing Windows 11 from its official website fairly straightforward, many still visit other sources to download the software, which often contains unadvertised goodies from cybercriminals (and isn’t necessarily Windows 11 at all),” Kaspersky wrote. The sarcastic "goodies" include anything from harmless adware to password stealers and trojans. 

An executable file called 86307 windows 11 build 21996.1 x64 + activator.exe is one example. It certainly appears credible, with a file size of 1.75GB. However, the majority of that space is taken up by a single DLL file that contains a lot of irrelevant data. 

When you run the application, the installer seems to be a standard Windows installation wizard. Its primary function is to download and execute a more intriguing executable. The second executable is likewise an installer, with a license agreement that describes it as a “download manager for 86307 windows 11 build 21996.1 x64 + activator” and notes that it will also install some sponsored applications. If you accept the agreement, your computer will be infected with a number of malicious programmes. 

It's not uncommon for hackers to take advantage of victims' demand for a product or service, whether it's coronavirus contact tracing apps or the Telegram encrypted messaging app. In late June, Microsoft announced Windows 11 and made an initial “insider preview” accessible. Security has been highlighted as a key driving factor in the development of the operating system upgrade. 

The bogus installers are proliferating as Microsoft battles a number of security threats directed at the firm. Last week, Microsoft revealed instructions on how to protect against the "PetitPotam" attack, which might allow attackers to take control of Windows domains, as well as a solution for the "SeriousSAM" vulnerability, which could let attackers get administrative access. Last week, the corporation also issued a warning about LemonDuck, a cryptocurrency mining malware that has been targeting Microsoft devices. 

Experts warned about the risk of hacking and obtaining a loan on the Public Services Portal of the Russian Federation

Experts warn that scammers have begun to hack the accounts of citizens on the site of state services and using them to take loans and microloans.

"This is already a serious problem, and in the near future, it will only get worse. Hacking an account, password matching or data leakage can lead to an attacker gaining access to an account on the Public Services Portal and, of course, trying to monetize this access," said Vladimir Ulyanov, head of the Zecurion analytical center.

According to the expert, it is possible to increase the level of protection by enabling two-factor authentication of logging into the personal account, as well as setting your own complex password. However, it will not help to be completely safe from fraudsters.

Anatoly Lebedev, Deputy Head of the Department of Information Security at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, also warned about the high risk of fraudulent actions with loans and microloans, which were taken through a profile on the Public Services Portal. Mr. Lebedev also noted that online services today, although convenient, are not safe.

Dmitry Morozov, Development Director of 3DiVi Inc, said that he was not aware of the facts of hacking profiles on the Public Services Portal, but allowed such a possibility. He hopes that biometrics, such as FaceID or retinal scans, can improve account security.

Messages about the hacking of personal accounts in public services began to appear on social networks in July. Users reported that the criminals changed the phone number linked to Public Services Portal, e-mail and sent applications for loans and microloans on behalf of the user.

Earlier E Hacking News reported that details of passport, social security number and employment data of 2.24 million Russian citizens from the Public Services Portal were publicly available. The error occurred due to the illiteracy of developers and inaccuracies in the legislation.

Sussex-Based Couple Loses £15,000 to Scammers

 

Loreta and Mindaugas from Horsham, Sussex, were lured in a fake bonus offer from a fraudster who seemed to be working for Coinbase Platform - shortly before the site was listed as a public company.

Mindaugas, an executive at a UK-based company, received an email on March 24, 2021, that purportedly came from Coinbase, claiming that he was eligible for a bonus on Coinbase. The victim tried to claim a £60 bonus supposedly offered by Coinbase and in just nine minutes, £ 15,000 were deducted from the couple’s crypto savings. 

“At first, we thought it might be some kind of mistake or a glitch. But since their knowledge base had no option that covered any bugs or glitches, we decided to inform Coinbase that my husband’s account has been compromised. But all we got back was a password reset request,” Loreta said. 

Coinbase is a popular stock trading website used for buying and selling Cryptocurrency with over 56 million users and worth $ 99.6 billion. 

Double Fraud

Shortly after changing his account password, Mindaugas received a second call from the supposed Coinbase support agent. The scammer told him that Coinbase was answering to the open support ticket concerning his compromised account and promptly began to question Mindaugas about the cyber fraud. 

After finishing the interrogation, the scammer offered Mindaugas two options.“Either we call the police, in which case there is no guarantee that we’ll ever get our money back, or they give us a refund without getting involved with the authorities. My husband was still in shock and rather disoriented, so at that moment, he agreed to proceed with the second option,” Loreta told CyberNews. 

“He said 'we see that you have an account at Binance and since Coinbase and Binance are sister companies' - and that’s when I saw he was trying to dupe us. Next thing I hear; he’s telling us to prove our identity either by transferring £5,000 from our Binance account to Coinbase or by giving them our Binance authentication code so that they can transfer the missing £15,000 to my husband’s Binance account" Loreta explained.

After spotting suspicious activity, Mindaugas and Loreta declined to trade and reported the fraud to the police. However, his case was promptly closed due to a ‘lack of evidence’. They also contacted Coinbase for help but they've had no response. 

"We’re still waiting for an answer. And since 'only' £15,000 was stolen, we’re not very hopeful that the police will do anything about it," Loreta said. 

The Cyber News investigation team began investigating the fraud after the couple contacted them for help. Researchers have identified that cryptocurrencies have been cleaned in an elaborate way Wallet network. This effectively makes stolen funds “untraceable” and helps scammers to prevent them from being caught. 

“Due to the anonymity of the crypto market, scams targeting the general public tend to be barely visible. In fact, phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated, making it increasingly difficult to identify fake messages that appear to come from trusted people or brands. Companies like Coinbase need to be responsible for keeping their customers as safe as possible,” Edvardas Mikalauskas, Senior Researcher at Cyber News, stated. 

“They need to implement strict controls in detecting and blocking malicious or anomalous activity before criminals have the opportunity to steal cryptocurrencies. CyberNews always previews URLs before clicking links or buttons, pays attention to messages sent to your inbox, and tells consumers to use unique passwords and multi-factor authentication for their online accounts, and warned that the embedded link is a “serious danger signal,” Edvardas added.

Online Support Agents Being Targeted Through Live Chat Platforms

 

Phishing scammers are pretending to be customers contact live-chat assistance agents with fake issues, making them open infected files, says incident response expert who found a surge in incidents using this trick since the start of this year. This scam is similar to another phishing campaign example which involves leveraging communication channels beyond the outside the emails to target potential victims out of the blue. The technique works off because website operators using chat features do not always check the files for malware while uploading. 

The hackers behind this rising trend are part of a ransomware group and maybe using automated scripts to target 'contact us' or other chat forums on the web which they can exploit, says Devon Ackerman, managing director and head of incident response for North America with Kroll’s Cyber Risk practice. He said "From a coding standpoint, I can build logic that will scan for [these chat forms] across any number of websites,” said Ackerman, placing himself in the shoes of an attacker.

After finding the form itself, “the second thing I’m looking for is… an interactable or selectable box [in the form field] that allows me to do a file upload. I can even anonymize myself through a virtual hosting server for maybe five, 10 bucks a month, and just run my script 24 hours a day and let it scan or crawl websites non-stop like a search engine spider or bot would." 

The attackers then find a target website which are identified by the 'spiders or the bots,' and build a communication platform suited to the particular company they're trying to exploit. This stage requires some human effort, because it is quite complex to automate as there are more variables. Every platform is a bit different from the other and every chat session is distinct too. Therefore, it requires more customisation, which means that we won't be able to see a large scale use of such techniques. But, this makes the scam look more authentic and genuine, as well as effective. 

SC Magazine reports, "an example might be a fake customer pretending to send a picture of a damaged vehicle to an auto insurance representative, or a phony business owner contacting a website with supposed proof of a copyright violation that never actually happened, he told SC Media. When the adversary sends over the malicious file, it may arrive in a password-protected zip format because antivirus software may not be able to detect the malware in compressed files, the blog post explains. The documents within the zip file contain malicious macros, which if enabled infect the customer support agent’s machine with malware."

Fraudsters are Mailing Modified Ledger Devices to Steal Cryptocurrency

 

Scammers are mailing fraudulent replacement devices to Ledger customers who were recently exposed in a data breach, which are being used to steal cryptocurrency wallets. 

With increased cryptocurrency values and the use of hardware wallets to secure crypto funds, Ledger has become a frequent target for scammers. After receiving what appears to be a Ledger Nano X device in the mail, a Ledger user published a devious fraud on Reddit. The gadget arrived in authentic-looking packaging with a sloppy letter claiming that it was sent to replace their existing device as their customer information had been leaked online on the RaidForum hacker community. 

"For this reason for security purposes, we have sent you a new device you must switch to a new device to stay safe. There is a manual inside your new box you can read that to learn how to set up your new device," state the fake letter from Ledger. 

"For this reason, we have changed our device structure. We now guarantee that this kinda breach will never happen again." 

Despite the fact that the letter contained numerous grammatical and spelling issues, the information for 272,853 persons who purchased a Ledger device was published on the RaidForums hacking site in December 2020. This provided a slightly convincing reason for the new device's arrival. 

A shrinkwrapped Ledger Nano X box was also included in the package, containing what appeared to be a genuine device. After becoming skeptical of the device, they opened it and posted photos of the printed circuit board on Reddit, which clearly indicated the modification of devices. 

Mike Grover, a security researcher, and offensive USB cable/implant expert informed BleepingComputer that the threat actors added a flash drive and hooked it to the USB port based on the photos. 

Grover told BleepingComputer in a conversation about the photographs, "This appears to be a simple flash drive slapped on to the Ledger with the purpose of being for some form of malware delivery." 

"All of the components are on the other side, so I can't confirm if it is JUST a storage device, but.... judging by the very novice soldering work, it's probably just an off-the-shelf mini flash drive removed from its casing." 

As per the image examining, Grover highlighted the flash drive implant connected to the wires while stating, "Those 4 wires piggyback the same connections for the USB port of the Ledger." 

According to the enclosed instructions, it instructs people to connect the Ledger to their computer, open the drive that appears, and execute the accompanying application. The person then enters their Ledger recovery phrase to import their wallet to the new device, according to the guidelines. 

A recovery phrase is a human-readable seed that is used to produce a wallet's private key. Anyone with this recovery phrase can import a wallet and gain access to the cryptocurrency contained within it. After entering the recovery phrase, it is sent to the attackers, who use it to import the victim's wallet on their own devices to steal the contained cryptocurrency funds. 

This fraud is acknowledged by Ledger and they issued warnings about it in May on their dedicated phishing website. 

Recovery phrases for Ledger devices should never be shared with anybody and should only be input directly on the Ledger device the user is trying to recover. The user should only use the Ledger Live application downloaded straight from Ledger.com if the device does not allow to enter the phrase directly. 

Ledger customers flooded with scams: 

In June 2020, an unauthorized person gained access to Ledger's e-commerce and marketing databases, resulting in a data breach. 

This information was "used to send order confirmations and promotional mailings — largely email addresses, but with a subset that also included contact and order details including first and last name, postal address, email address, and phone number." 

Ledger owners began getting several of the phishing emails directing them to fraudulent Ledger apps that would fool them into inputting their wallet's recovery codes. After the contact information for 270K Ledger owners was disclosed on the RaidForums hacker community in December, these scams became more common. 

The leak resulted in phishing operations posing as new Ledger data breach notifications, SMS phishing texts, and software upgrades on sites imitating Ledger.com.

WhatsApp Hijack Scam, Here's All You Need To Know

 

By posing as a friend and asking for SMS security codes, scammers are continuing to target WhatsApp users and hijack their accounts. The con has been around for years, yet victims have continued to fall for it, with many sharing their stories on social media. Users should never give out their security codes to anyone, even if they appear to be a buddy, according to WhatsApp. 

If users receive six-digit WhatsApp codes that they did not expect, they should be concerned. When setting up a new account or signing in to an existing account on a new device, such codes are frequently seen. However, if the code is obtained unexpectedly (without the user's request), it could be a scammer attempting to gain access to your account. 

The fraudster would then send you a WhatsApp message asking for the code. The most essential thing to remember is not to share the code, as the message appears to be from a legitimate friend or family member in most circumstances, even though the account has already been hacked. 

One victim, Charlie, told the BBC, "I got a WhatsApp message from my good friend Michelle, stating she was locked out of her account. She stated she sent the access code to my phone instead of hers by accident and that I could just screenshot it and send it over." In actuality, Charlie had given the scammer the code to his own account. 

He told the BBC, "I guess I fell for it since we all know how annoying technology can be and I was eager to help. I didn't realise what had happened for a day." Charlie stated that he had deleted WhatsApp and would no longer use it. 

The hijacker can pretend to be you and send messages to your friends and family using a stolen account. They might act as if you're facing a financial emergency and beg your contacts for money. It also provides them with the phone numbers of your contacts, allowing them to try the six-digit code trick on fresh victims. By gaining access to your account, the fraudster will be able to see sensitive information in your group chats. 

WhatsApp advises users to be cautious and not reveal their One Time Password (OTP) or SMS security code to anybody, even friends and relatives. Citizens can also enable two-step verification for added security.

Pay Attention: These Unsubscribe Emails Only Lead to Further Spam

 

Scammers send out fake 'unsubscribe' spam emails to validate legitimate email addresses for future phishing and spam campaigns. 

Spammers have been sending emails that merely inquire if the user wants to unsubscribe or subscribe for a long time. These emails don't specify what the user is unsubscribing or subscribing to, and spammers are using them to see if the recipient's email address is real and vulnerable to phishing scams and other nefarious activity. 

If they get the needed confirmation, they’ll bombard it with various spam emails. The campaign is simple in design - the victim will get a basic email with this call to action in it asking whether the consumer wants to unsubscribe or subscribe: 

“Please confirm your Subscribe (sic) or Unsubscribe. Confirm Subscribe me! Unsubscribe me! Thank you!” 

If the user clicks on the embedded subscribe/unsubscribe links, the mail client will generate a new email that will be forwarded to a large number of different email addresses controlled by the spammer. 

After sending the mail, users expect to be unsubscribed from future communications but they are, however, confirming for the spammers that their email address is real and under surveillance. 

BleepingComputer created a new email account for testing purposes, which they never used on any website or service. When they responded to multiple confirmation emails received on another email account using the new email address. After sending unsubscribe/subscribe responses from the new account, their new account was bombarded with spam emails within a few days. 

This test also revealed that spammers are utilizing these subscribe/unsubscribe emails to fine-tune their mailing lists and confirm email addresses that are vulnerable to phishing and frauds. 

It was also stated that these attacks aren't restricted to spam emails; nothing stops scammers from using phishing or social engineering against the target email, which is sometimes more hazardous and difficult to detect and stop. 

Consumers should never click any links they receive in an email unless they are fully certain of the sender's validity and the link's integrity, according to security experts. No credible company will ever send an email with only the alternatives to "Subscribe or Unsubscribe" and without any information.

Virtual Wallet Users are Being Scammed

 

People are carrying less cash as technology advances, preferring to use debit cards, credit cards, and smartphone payment apps instead. Although using virtual wallets like Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App is easy and becoming more common, there is a risk of being scammed by someone who does not appear to be who they claim to be. Virtual wallets are applications that you can download on your Android or iPhone to make it simple to send and receive money from friends, relatives, and other people. To move money, these apps are connected to a bank account. 

Scammers are always on the lookout for their next victim, and these apps provide them with an ideal opportunity to defraud people of their hard-earned money. Fraudsters have devised a number of strategies for intercepting payments or convincing app users to pay them directly. 

Last year, the Better Business Bureau reported on a new scheme in which con artists send messages requesting the return of unintended payments after making deposits into their victims' accounts. 

When the victim checks their account and discovers these transfers, which were made with stolen credit cards, they refund the funds, by which point the scammer has replaced the stolen credit card credentials with their own. The money is then sent to the fraudster, and the victim is held responsible until the owner of the stolen card files restitution claims. 

In contrast to Cash App and Venmo, PayPal is the oldest form of virtual wallet. In a PayPal scam, the scammer asks a seller to send the things he or she "bought" to a particular address. They discover that the address is invalid after the scammer "pays" for the item and the seller sends the package, but it's too late. 

If the shipping company is unable to locate the address, the item will be marked as undeliverable. The scammer would then contact the shipping company and provide a new address in order to accept the package while claiming they did not receive it. 

The scammer would then collect the item and file a complaint with PayPal claiming that the item was never delivered. PayPal will refund the money charged to the scammer because the buyer has no evidence that the item was shipped. As a result, the seller loses both money and goods to the con artist. 

App developers should take action to protect their users from these types of scams. Multifactor authentication and secondary confirmation, such as emailed security codes, are examples of these safeguards. According to Microsoft research, multifactor authentication will prevent 99.9% of fraud attempts involving compromised login credentials.

Microsoft Detected a BEC Campaign Targeted at More than 120 Organizations

 

Microsoft discovered a large-scale business email compromise (BEC) program that attacked over 120 organizations and used typo-squatted domains that were registered only days before the attacks began. Cybercriminals continue to harass companies in order to deceive recipients into accepting fees, exchanging money, or, in this case, buying gift cards. This kind of email attack is known as business email compromise (BEC), which is a dangerous type of phishing aimed at gaining access to sensitive business data or extorting money via email-based fraud.

In this operation, Microsoft discovered that attackers used typo-squatted domains to make emails appear to come from legitimate senders in the consumer products, process manufacturing, and agriculture, real estate, distinct manufacturing, and professional services industries. 

BEC emails are purposefully crafted to look like regular emails as if they were sent from someone the intended client already knows, but these campaigns are much more complicated than they seem. They necessitate planning, staging, and behind-the-scenes activities. 

"We observed patterns in using the correct domain name but an incorrect TLD, or slightly spelling the company name wrong. These domains were registered just days before this email campaign began," the Microsoft 365 Defender Threat Intelligence Team said. 

Despite the scammers' best efforts, Microsoft found that "the registered domains did not always comply with the company being impersonated in the email." The attackers' surveillance capabilities are evident when they called the targeted workers by their first names, despite their methodology being faulty at times.  

To give authenticity to the phishing emails, scammers used common phishing tactics including bogus responses (improved by also spoofing In-Reply-To and References headers), according to Microsoft.

 
"Filling these headers in made the email appear legitimate and that the attacker was simply replying to the existing email thread between the Yahoo and Outlook user," Microsoft added. "This characteristic sets this campaign apart from most BEC campaigns, where attackers simply include a real or specially crafted fake email, adding the sender, recipient, and subject, in the new email body, making appear as though the new email was a reply to the previous email." 

Though the tactics used by these BEC scammers seem crude, and their phishing messages seem to be clearly malicious, BEC attacks have resulted in record-breaking financial losses per year since 2018. The FBI formed a Recovery Asset Team in 2018 intending to retrieve money that can still be traced and freezing accounts used by fraudsters for illegal BEC transactions.

Centre of Attraction for Scammers : NFTs

 

NFTs - non-fungible token have been around for a few years now, but recent attention has sparked a surge throughout the market. NFTs are all here to stay, according to proponents, as they're more stable. Though enthusiasts may be correct about NFTs' long-term viability, as they may also no longer be a significant part of the art market once the original frenzy subsides. The art market's key elements are authenticity and originality, and NFTs certainly delivers both. 

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a data unit on a digital ledger known as a blockchain that really can represent a single digital object and therefore is not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to depict digital files like art, audio, video, video game objects, and other types of creative work. However, the definition can appear to be fundamentally abstract, it comes down to being able to assert exclusive possession of a collectible. 

"The higher the value of a cryptocurrency, the higher the volume of fraud targeting its users," says Abhilash Garimella, research scientist at fraud prevention firm Bolster.

NFTs can reflect digital possession of almost everything, for instance we can take, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's first tweet, Grimes' original art, Marvel artists' exclusive superhero comic drawings, and every other form of artistic work, including videos and audio. The Marvel comics entered the blockchain world, where an Ethereum-based Spiderman NFT was sold for $25,000. And till now the NFT "cryptocurrency collectibles" have sold for more than $100 million. 

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been questioned, despite proponents believing they are the future of economic systems and opponents dismissing them as nothing but a digital Ponzi scheme. Bitcoin mining is said to use as much energy as used by entire countries. People have become much more hesitant to buy and sell off their assets on the blockchain as they have become more aware of its vast energy requirements. Despite the fact that the blockchain is also said to be safe, there've been numerous cryptocurrency hacks. Both of these factors can deter young people from joining the craze, making it more difficult for NFTs to achieve long-term success. 

Hackers are indeed searching for ways to get as many Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, and other valuable digital coins as feasible, as shown by their fondness for ransomware, crypto mining, and hacking through cryptocurrency exchanges and extracting all of their assets in recent times. 

In 2020, two Florida teens and a British man duped a number of people into thinking that the 130 high-profile Twitter accounts they'd took over might potentially double people's bitcoin assets once they'd been collected by Elon Musk and Bill Gates. Many people have fallen for the scam which involves Musk allegedly offering "free" NFTs after victims "verified" themselves by giving a small number of bitcoins "temporarily". This was one of the NFTs scams.

Scammers Disguised as Tesco are Stealing Data Via Phone Scam, Warns Police

 

Wales Police have warned residents of a new phone fraud in which criminals try to trick customers for hundreds of pounds. The scam is brought about by ongoing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, a time when shopping online and clicking and collecting services have increased enormously. Several people have reported a telephone scam to Dyfed Powys Police, stating that acting fraudsters seemed to be from Tesco. Victims reported that an automatic call has been sent to inform individuals that an order has been placed with Tesco and that £350 is debited. The automatic message continues to say, “if this is not the right amount, please press 1 to go through to our fraud team.” 

Once the frightened victims press ‘1’, they are brought to a scammer who seeks to get as much personal information, including bank details, from them as possible. The police had also cautioned that the scammers seem to be extremely advanced and genuine. Therefore they advised: “If you receive a call like this, it’s best to hang up and either check your Tesco online account yourself or call Tesco directly from a number you have obtained.” 

All in all, the change over the past year to online services and the health and economic complexities resulted in the fraudsters escalating scams. Barclay’s data suggest that impersonation is the highest common form of scam (29 percent ). 

Commenting on the story, Ray Walsh, ProPrivacy's digital data privacy specialist, commented: “These scams rely on clever scripts to convince people that they are being defrauded, so that worried victims hand over sensitive personal data, including their bank details.” 

The fraudsters may even try to persuade the victim to install the software for remote access onto their pc to help delete malware that allowed fake fraud to happen, as per the reports. Anyone who wants to do so will enable cyber-criminals to have direct access to their PC to install any software that steals one’s data. If users receive such a call, they should either verify their own online Tesco account or call Tesco immediately from a number they have received. 

Experts stated that “We remind everyone never to provide their personal information or payment details to anybody who calls them out of the blue, even if they claim to be from a huge brand like Tesco. If you have an order placed with Tesco and you receive a call like this which concerns you, hang up and make an inquiry with Tesco directly to check on the status of your delivery.”

Twitter Ads used by Scammers to Promote Fake Cryptocurrency

 

One must pay attention to all Twitter advertisements that propagate all kinds of the falsified cryptocurrency scam. Tweeters can "promote" an existing tweet in order to promote their own services and information, by showing it to other followers or users on Twitter. The scammers' report on Twitter checked accounts supporting bogus cryptocurrency scams. The scams are allegedly made under the name of these well-known individuals or companies such as Elon Musk's Tesla, Gemini Exchange, Chamath Palihapitiya, and Social Capital. The threat actors have indeed been unbelievably successful with a round of attacks raising over $580,000 in a single week. 

If anyone receives messages from Tesla, Elon Musk, Gemini exchange, Palihapitiya Chamath, Social Capital, or other famous cryptocurrency donations – individuals or companies, they must go as far as they can from such types of posts, because the handles are compromised, and they are scammed. 

Since these scams continue to produce revenue by plundering thousands of dollars via the promotion of Bitcoin, the threat actors are also beginning to threaten other recent prominent cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin. Dogecoin is the cryptocurrency of Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, software engineers, who wanted to build an immediate, enjoyable, and conventional banking fees-free payment system. Dogecoin has as its emblem and its name as the face of Shiba Inu dog from the "Doge" memes. 

Twitter users are able to "promote" an ongoing tweet by paying for it being displayed to many other users in their Twitter feeds to advertise its services and content. Security researchers such as Zseano, Jake, and MalwareHunterTeam have found a new technique that crypto-currency fraudsters use, i.e. via tweets on Twitter. 

The technique comprises of the splitting up of URLs so as not to differentiate them by the Twitter algorithms of advertising for fraud. This then brings users to fakes landing pages which have been the social capital; exchanges between Tesla and Gemini, etc. and leads the user to additional real websites with the topics of Tesla or Elon Musk and an address with a Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or Ethereum. Besides, users can send coins to the address and they will actually increase the sum in return. 

Based on some of those scams, a total of $39,628.06 so far has been raised through the use of Bitcoin and Ethereum addresses. Unfortunately, several more cryptocurrency addresses are currently used by scammers, so the created sum is significantly greater. It doesn't mean that it is secure, only because the crypto app is in the app store. Recently, a Trezor-named application has been uploaded to the Apple store. Later, it was discovered to be a scam and the software has been used for phishing passwords and private keys.

BEC Scammer Infects own Device, Exposes their Activity

 

In some media depictions, criminal and state-backed hackers are constantly portrayed as cunning and sophisticated, gliding inexorably toward their most recent information heist. These digital operatives are, obviously, human and inclined to botches that uncover their activity. A North Korean man blamed for hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, for instance, mixed his real identity with his alias in registering online accounts, making it simpler for U.S. investigators to track him. 

The latest illustration of blundering digital behavior happened when a scammer contaminated their own gadget, offering researchers a front-row seat to the attacker’s scheme and lessons in how to defend against it. “This is a big failure in their operational security as it gives us direct insight into some of the attacker’s tactics and operation,” said Luke Leal, a researcher at Web security firm Sucuri, which made the discovery.  

The assailant was attempting to complete a business email compromise (BEC), a plan that utilizes spoofed emails to trick individuals into sending crooks money. BEC tricks are so common they represented $1.7 billion in losses reported to the FBI in 2019 — or half of all cybercrime losses reported to the authority. To complete the scam, the scammer required more details on equipment utilized at an anonymous oil organization to make malevolent emails to the organization's workers more believable, Leal wrote in a blog post. That implied planting noxious code on gadgets utilized at the organization to monitor communications.

Simultaneously, be that as it may, the attacker obviously neglected to eliminate the malevolent code they put on their own gadget, maybe for testing purposes, giving Leal's team a window into the attacker’s machinations and frustrations. Since it was tainted by the malware, the gadget was sending screenshots back to the control panel the hacker was utilizing in the scam. The researchers saw emails the attacker sent to targeted employees and how they spread out payment demands over various invoices to make the scam more believable. Another such incident took place in 2016 when a couple of security researchers uncovered a Nigerian scammer, that they said operated a new kind of attack called “wire-wire”, this was after a couple of its individuals unintentionally infected themselves with their own malware.

Scammers are Tricking Consumers via QR Code Phishing Campaign

 

QR codes - the little Digi squares, an effective tool for contactless transactional activities especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Quick Response (QR) codes were originally developed back in the mid-nineties for utilization in the Japanese auto-making industry as a swift, machine-readable technique to reserve information regarding a specific item, whether for production, inventory, or eventual scale. 

QR code is the most convenient method to pay or receive money and this tool has seemed to grow exponentially in the last 5 years, mainly due to the explosion in the popularity of smartphones over the past decade. Most of the modern-day Android and iOS camera apps read the codes naturally unlike the previous years where the users have to download a particular QR code-scanning apps to access the information programmed into the tiny squares.

The biggest concern begins when fraudsters start to use QR codes as a doorway to secure consumers' private information regarding bank details, private messages, etc. So how to identify what’s hidden in the QR codes and gain the necessary knowledge to identify a fraudulent one?

The popular method used by the fraudsters is to send texts to the consumers like – ‘Congratulations! You have won 2000 Rs.’ along with the picture of the QR code. This text will prompt the consumers to scan the QR code, enter the amount which will redirect the consumers to the UPI PIN page to receive the money in their account. Most of the consumers with less awareness are trapped in the net laid by the scammers and end up paying the scammer the amount.

The next popular method used by scammers to trick the consumers is to embed a fake QR code into a phishing email, text, or via social media platform. If the consumer scans the fake code which will redirect the consumer to the website with realistic-looking landing pages and the consumer will prompt the consumer to login via PII (personally identifiable information). A fabricated QR code has the ability to take the consumer to the websites where malware can be automatically installed and used to steal critical information from the consumers’ device or even share spyware or viruses.

Three methods to prevent yourself from QR code scam 

1.) Read the message carefully and pay attention to the small details while making transactions via QR code. 

2.) The device used for making payments should be updated frequently and install security software. If any suspicion arises immediately get in touch with your bank and request them to alter your login credentials.

 3.) If the problem is severe you can contact the police and register a formal complaint with the cyber cell, the consumer can also register an online complaint on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal – cybercrime.gov.in.

FBI Warns Victims Against Scammers Threating with Jail Time

 

Recently the US FBI has noted an increase in phone calls that usually spoof the Bureau’s telephone number. The actors pretend to be FBI officers and ask the victims for their personal information. The FBI headquarters’ number sometimes is "spoof" or false, so that the call appears to originate from the FBI on the calling ID of the destination. In this scam, fraudulent callers posing as an agent of the FBI ask for the personal information of the recipient. These calls are however fraudulent; any genuine law enforcement officer would not ask a citizen for their personal information. The FBI describes this form of fraud as impersonation fraud, which revolves around criminals attempting to raise money. 

The FBI says that the criminals at times attempt to ransom victims to gain publicly identifiable information, whether physical or financial. The scammers are getting more subtle, coordinated, technologically advanced, and are mostly focusing on young and elderly people. 

The most recent case holds the actors acting as FBI agents and threatening their targets with fines and jail times, unless and until the target accords any piece of personal information to the actor. The FBI alerted that the organization has been notified of many such incidents where the actor attempts to steal their personal details. Seemingly, most of the fraudsters are targeting people from North Florida.  

One of the victims of the fraud claimed that scammers first contacted him as a representative of sweepstakes to agree on giving out confidential information in return for a big prize. Following a failure to distribute all the information sought, a second scammer who impersonated an FBI officer called the victim and demanded the same information to help target the sweepstakes organization in its investigation. In another case, the victim was contacted by a threat actor posing to be an FBI representative and asked for personal information. 

"The caller claimed to have an immediate need for personal information about the victim—to include financial account numbers—in order to eliminate the victim as a suspect in the alleged crime," stated the FBI. "When the victim declined to provide the information, the caller threatened fines and jail time." 

In regards to such incidents, the FBI advises the targets to reach out to the nearest local office to verify the incident and help in the further investigation to solve the case. They also said that none of the FBI agents would ever ask for money or personal information and therefore one must be vigilant against such scams.

NHS Urged Public to Remain Vigilant Regarding Fake Covid-19 Vaccinations

 

Fraudsters are tricking people in the UK via fake Covid-19 vaccination invites, scammers are posing to be from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and are sending fake emails including a link to enroll for the vaccine.

NHS has alerted the public by tweeting on their official account that no registration is required for the real vaccination. We would never ask for bank details, verification of documents such as your passport, driving license, bills, or payslips, and no payment is required for the vaccination.

The multiple variants of phishing emails are floating around the internet but they all point towards the NHS, claiming a message from the NHS website ‘noreply@nhs.gov.uk’ (the original NHS website is NHS.uk). Scammers are using mail subject identical to “IMPORTANT – Public Health Message. Decide whether if you want to be vaccinated”.
 
Cybersecurity consultant Daniel Card explained that traffic data is suggesting fraudsters have tricked thousands of recipients to click on the fake website but it remains unclear how many recipients have filled in the form. National Cyber Security Centre and Action Fraud have urged people to report scam emails or texts.

Health secretary Matt Hancock stated that “vaccines are our way out of this pandemic, it is vital that we do not let a small number of unscrupulous fraudsters undermine the huge team effort underway across the country to protect millions of people from this terrible disease”.

This was not the first phishing campaign related to the covid-19 vaccination, at the start of this month fraudsters sent bogus text messages to the recipients posing to be from the NHS and asking recipients to register for a vaccine and provide bank details for verification.