Online RomanceBe wary of romance scams in which scammers target people who search for companionship or romance online. Someone you know may be "dating" someone online who may appear to be decent and honest.
However, be forewarned: the online contact could be a criminal sitting in a cyber café with a well-rehearsed script that scammers have used repeatedly and successfully. Scammers search chat rooms, dating sites, and social networking sites looking for victims.
The principal group of victims are over 40 years old and divorced, widowed, elderly, or disabled, but all demographics are at risk. Scammers use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to reel in victims, the entire time declaring their "undying love." These criminals also use stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, deaths in the family, injuries to themselves, or other hardships to keep their victims concerned and involved in their schemes.
Scammers also ask victims to send money to help overcome a financial situation they claim to be experiencing. These are all lies intended to take money from unsuspecting victims. In another scheme, scammers ask victims to receive funds in the form of a cashier's check, money order, or wire transfer, claiming they are out of the country and unable to cash them or receive the funds directly. The scammers ask victims to redirect the funds to them or to an associate to whom they claim owes them money.
In a similar scheme, scammers ask victims to reship packages instead of redirecting funds.
In these examples, victims risk losing money and may incur other expenses, such as bank fees and penalties, and in some instances face prosecution. Victims who have agreed to meet in person with an online love interest have been reported missing, injured, or deceased. Victims most often report the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, England, and Canada as the location of the scammers. If you are planning to meet someone in person that you have met online, use caution, especially if you plan to travel to a foreign country, and, at the very least:
• Do not travel alone
• Tell other people your plans
• Contact your Embassy in the country you plan to visit
Even though it seems to be contrary to the thought of starting a new romance, do not be afraid to check a new acquaintance's story online. Remember, like most fraudulent schemes, scammers use whatever personal information you provide to quickly paint themselves as your perfect match.
If your new friend’s story is repeated through numerous complaints and articles on the Internet, it is time to apply common sense over your feelings.
Osama bin Laden's death used by ScammersScammers are using the killing of Osama bin Laden to send out malicious software and spam to unwitting Internet users.
Scammers are sending out emails and spreading Facebook posts that claim to be videos or photos of the dead bin Laden. They are not. But by clicking the links, you can download computer viruses that steal personal information or infect your computer.
One spam email contains a link to bogus photos and videos claiming to be from CNN Mexico. Instead, it directs you to a scam site designed to look like the real thing but created to steal passwords.
Some Facebook users also fell victim to fake bin Laden links that then spread the links to their friends' pages on the site.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama said he has decided not to release photos of the dead bin Laden because they could incite violence and create national security risks for the U.S., however that didn't stop Internet scammers from spreading fake, doctored photos to lure people into giving away their personal information or downloading malicious software or "malware" which can embed itself in computers and spread to your users' contact lists, thereby infecting the systems of associates, friends and family members.
Remember not to open unsolicited (spam) e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages. Even if the sender is familiar, you should exercise due diligence.
Check you have up-to-date firewall and anti- virus software running on your machines to detect and deflect malicious software. You are advised to do the following:
• Adjust the privacy settings on social networking sites you frequent to make it more difficult for people you know and do not know to post content to your page. Even a "friend" can unknowingly pass on multimedia that's actually malicious software.
• Do not agree to download software to view videos. These applications can infect your computer.
• Read e-mails you receive carefully. Fraudulent messages often feature misspellings, poor grammar and nonstandard English.
Unauthorized Wire Transfers to ChinaThis scam occurs when the online banking details of small-to-medium sized U.S. businesses are compromised and used to send unauthorized wire transfers to Chinese economic and trade companies located near the Russian border.
In a typical scenario, the computer of a person within a company who can initiate funds transfers on behalf of the U.S. business is compromised by either a phishing e-mail or by visiting a malicious Web site.
The malware harvests the user’s corporate online banking details. When the authorized user attempts to log in to the user’s bank Web site, the user is typically redirected to another Web page stating the bank Web site is under maintenance or is unable to access the accounts.
While the user is experiencing logon issues, scammers initiate the unauthorized transfers to commercial accounts held at intermediary banks typically located in New York.
Account funds are then transferred to the Chinese economic and trade company bank account. Victims tend to be small-to-medium sized businesses and public institutions that have accounts at local community banks and credit unions, some of which use third-party service providers for online banking services.
The intended recipients of the international wire transfers are economic and trade companies located in the Heilongjiang province in the People’s Republic of China. The companies are registered in port cities that are located near the Russia-China border.
The FBI has identified multiple companies that were used for more than one unauthorized wire transfer. However, in these cases the transfers were a few days apart and never used again.
Generally, the scammers use different companies to receive the transfers. The companies used for this fraud include the name of a Chinese port city in their official name. These cities include: Raohe, Fuyuan, Jixi City, Xunke, Tongjiang, and Dongning. The official name of the companies also include the words “economic and trade,” “trade,” and “LTD.”
The economic and trade companies appear to be registered as legitimate businesses and typically hold bank accounts with the Agricultural Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and the Bank of China.
Money transfers to companies that contain these described characteristics should be closely scrutinized.
The unauthorized wire transfers range from $50,000 to $985,000. In most cases, they tend to be above $900,000, but the scammers have been more successful in receiving the funds when the unauthorized wire transfers were under $500,000. When the transfers went through successfully, the money was immediately withdrawn from or transferred out of the recipients’ accounts.
In addition to the large wire transfers, the scammers also sent domestic ACH and wire transfers to money mules in the United States within minutes of conducting the overseas transfers. The domestic wire transfers range from $200 to $200,000.
The intended recipients are money mules, individuals who the victim company has done business with in the past, and in one instance, a utility company located in another U.S. state. The additional ACH transfers initiated using compromised accounts range from $222,500 to $1,275,000.
For recommendations on how businesses can Protect, Detect, and Respond to Corporate Account Takeovers such as this, refer to the “Fraud Advisory for Businesses: Corporate Account Take Over” available at http://www.fsisac.com/files/public/db/p265.pdf.