Archive 1



Western Union Scam

An email that appears to come from Western Union [an international money transfer service] is circulating that claims that there has been unauthorized transactions on your credit card.

It is a phishing email and is not from Western Union and the claims about unauthorized credit card transactions are false. The message is designed to steal your credit card details. Attached to the email is a form which you are requested to fill out.

This email claims that your credit card account may have been accessed by an unauthorized third party. It informs you that the compromised account has therefore been suspended as a security measure. The email then instructs you to open an attached form and submit Western Union login details and credit card information as a means of verifying your account and identity.

Supposedly, once these details have been submitted and reviewed by Western Union's "fraud department" the account suspension will be lifted.

If you fill out the form as requested you will actually be sending your login information and credit card details directly to Internet based criminals. Once the criminals have collected your information, they can then make fraudulent transactions using your credit card account. They can also logon to your real Western Union account and use it for fraudulent activities.

What is of concern is the scammers have included a fake web form as an HTML email attachment rather than directing you to a fake website using a link in the message. When the email attachment is opened, the fake form is loaded into your web browser. If you click the Submit button, the scammers will receive a copy of all the details you provided.

By using HTML attachments rather than links, the criminals are hoping to avoid the increasingly sophisticated phishing scam filters that come with modern web browsers and computer security software.

You should be very cautious of any unsolicited email that requests you to provide personal and financial details, either via links in the message or via email attachments.

If you need to access an online account, the safest course of action is to open your web browser and type in the account's website address directly. Do not fill in and submit forms that are included in email attachments. Do not click on links in emails that request you to provide personal or financial information via a web based form.


IRS Refunds

Email, claiming to be from the IRS, states that you are eligible for a tax refund and should click on an included link to access the refund.

The message is not from the IRS and the promised refund is just a trick to get you to disclose your personal and financial information. If you follow the link in the email you will be taken to a fake website designed to look like the genuine IRS website. Once on the fake website, you will be asked to provide credit card details, social security numbers and other personal information.

All information provided can be collected and used by Internet scammers for fraud and identity theft.

It is an example of a phishing email that is designed to trick you into divulging your personal information. The fake website looks very real and uses copied graphics and logos that are designed to fool you into thinking it is the genuine site.

The IRS has published information warning US taxpayers about IRS related phishing scams. The warning states:

* The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail

* The IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail

* The IRS does not send e-mail requesting your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts

Some versions of these scam emails attempt to trick you into opening an attachment rather than following a link. These attachments open a web-based form that again asks for personal and financial information that can be collected by Internet criminals.

You should treat any unsolicited email that claims that you are eligible for a tax refund with the great suspicion. Government tax entities such as the IRS do not send refund notifications via unsolicited email.

If you receive such an email, do not follow any links in the message or open any attachments that it may contain.


2010 Census Scams

The 2010 Census is underway and you may be wondering about whom you can trust. The Census is easy, important, and safe — just fill out your form and mail it back.

The IC3 and the Better Business Bureau [BBB], a 2010 Census partner, are encouraging participation in the 2010 Census while cautioning people to get the facts:

1. 2010 Census takers will never contact you by e-mail or solicit for donations

2. Do not respond to unsolicited [spam] e-mail or text messages; including clicking on links and/or opening attachments contained within

3. Criminals often capitalize on legitimate campaigns to spread computer viruses through e-mails, text messages, "pop-ups," fraudulent Web sites, or infected legitimate Web sites. The viruses are embedded in an attachment [including pictures], link, and/or computer application. This also applies to tactics used in social networking sites. Remember, not all anti-virus software detects every virus, especially if the virus is newly created. Visit for official information on the 2010 Census

4. Beware of groups using a similar name to a reputable agency, especially through Web sites. Rather than following a link to the Web site, log on

directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail and/or text. Web sites can be verified by utilizing various Internet-based resources to confirm their status and to obtain feedback

5. 2010 Census takers will not ask you for your Personally Identifiable Information such as your social security account number [SSAN], driver's license number, bank account number, or credit card number

6. Do not provide this type of information to anyone claiming to be a 2010 Census taker

7. Please be aware, the Census Bureau does ask for the last four digits of the respondent's SSAN for one survey: the National Health Interview Survey.

8. Do not respond to work-at-home opportunities to be a Census taker, especially if the offer is unsolicited and it occurs through e-mail, text, or other indirect means. However, the Census Bureau may contact, in person, trusted third-party stakeholders, such as schools, media, businesses, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, state, local, and tribal governments to spread the recruiting message. Criminals often use work-at-home scams to commit identity theft by collecting individuals' PII such as their bank account information, SSAN, and driver’s license number

9. Be wary if someone claiming to be a Census Bureau representative attempts to sign you up as a new employee on the spot. The Census Bureau has a hiring process, which includes taking a test in person, not on-line. To learn more information on what is required to become a census taker, visit

If you have information pertaining to a 2010 Census scheme, please file a complaint with the and contact your local BBB along with your local law enforcement agency.


Internet Crime Report

The Internet Crime Complaint Center [IC3], a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center [NW3C], released the 2009 Annual Report about fraudulent activity on the Internet recently.

Online crime complaints increased substantially once again last year, according to the report. The IC3 received a total of 336,655 complaints, a 22.3 percent increase from 2008. The total loss linked to online fraud was $559.7 million; this is up from $265 million in 2008.

Although the complaints consisted of a variety of fraud types, advanced fee scams that fraudulently used the FBI's name ranked number one [16.6 percent]. Non-delivery of merchandise and/or payment was the second most reported offense [11.9 percent].

Of the top five categories of offenses reported to law enforcement during 2009, non-delivered merchandise and/or payment ranked 19.9%; identity theft, 14.1%; credit card fraud, 10.4%; auction fraud, 10.3%; and computer fraud [destruction/damage/vandalism of property], 7.9%

In addition to FBI scams, popular scam trends for 2009 included hitman scams, astrological reading frauds, economic scams, job site scams, and fake pop-up ads for antivirus software.

Email scams that used the FBI name [schemes in which the scammer pretended to be affiliated with the FBI in an effort to gain information from the target] represented 16.6% of all complaints submitted to IC3. Non-delivered merchandise and/or payment [in which either a seller did not ship the promised item or a buyer did not pay for an item] accounted for 11.9% of complaints.

Advance fee fraud [a scam wherein the target is asked to give money upfront- often times- for some reward that never materializes] made up 9.8% of complaints. Identity theft and overpayment fraud [scams in which the target is given a fraudulent monetary instrument in excess of the agreed-upon amount for the transaction, and asked to send back the overpayment using a legitimate monetary instrument] round out the top five categories of all complaints submitted to IC3 during the year.

“Law enforcement relies on the corporate sector and citizens to report when they encounter on-line suspicious activity so these schemes can be investigated and criminals can be arrested,” stated Peter Trahon, Section Chief of the FBI's Cyber Division. “Computer users are encouraged to have up-to-date security protection on their devices and evaluate email solicitations they receive with a healthy skepticism—if something seems too good to be true, it likely is.”


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