Cyber Crooks Go “Phishing”

“Phishing,” the latest craze among online evil-doers, has nothing to do with sitting at the end of a dock on a sunny afternoon dangling a worm to entice hungry catfish.

But, if you take their bait, this new breed of online con artist will hook you, reel you in, and take you for every dollar you have… or worse.

“Phishing” describes a combination of techniques used by cyber crooks to bait people into giving up sensitive personal data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth and more.

Their techniques work so well that, according to FraudWatchInternational.com [http://FraudWatchInternational.com], “phishing” rates as the fastest growing scam on the Internet.

Here’s the basic pattern for a “phishing” scam…

You receive a very official email that appears to originate from a legitimate source, such as a bank, eBay, PayPal, a major retailer, or some other well known entity.

In the email it tells you that something bad is about to happen unless you act quickly.

Typically it tells you that your account is about to get closed, that someone appears to have stolen your identity, or even that someone opened a fraudulent account using your name.

In order to help straighten everything out, you need to click a link in the email and provide some basic account information so they can verify your identity and then give you additional details so you can help get everything cleared up.

Once you give up your information… it’s all over but the crying!

After getting your information, these cyber-bandits can empty your bank accounts, deplete your PayPal accounts, run up your credit card balances, open new credit accounts, assume your identity and much worse.

An especially disturbing new variation of this scam specifically targets online business owners and affiliate marketers.

In this con, the scammer’s email informs you that they’ve just sent $1,219.43 (or a similar big but believable amount) in affiliate commissions to you via PayPal.

They need you to log into your PayPal account to verify receipt of the money and then email them back to confirm you got it.

Since you’re so excited at the possibility of an unexpected pay day, you click the link to go to PayPal, log in, and BANG! They have your PayPal login information and can empty your account.

This new “phishing” style scam works extremely well for 2 basic reasons.

First, by exploiting your sense of urgency created by fear or greed, crooks get you to click the link and give them your information without thinking.

Second, the scammers use a variety of cloaking and spoofing techniques to make their emails and websites appear totally legitimate, making it extremely hard to spot a fake website, especially when they’ve first whipped you into an emotional frenzy.

The good news, however, is that you can protect yourself relatively easily against this type of cyber-crime with basic software and common sense.

Most of these scams get delivered to you via Spam (unsolicited email), so a good spam blocker will cut down on many of them even making it to your inbox.

If you receive an email that looks legitimate and you want to respond, Stop – Wait – Think!

Verify all phone numbers with a physical phone book or online phone directory like w

Look for spelling and grammatical errors that make it look like someone who doesn’t speak English or your native language very well wrote it.

Never click the link provided in the email, but go directly to the website by typing in the main address of the site yourself (paypall).

Forward the email to the main email address of the website or call the customer service number on the main website you typed in yourself and ask if it is in fact legitimate.

Above all remember this:

Your bank, credit card company, PayPal, eBay and anyone else you deal with online already knows your account number, username, password or any other account specific information.

They don’t need to email you for ANY reason to ask you to confirm your information — so NEVER respond to email requests for your account or personal details.

How To Spot an Online Dating Fraudster (Catfish)

I must admit I hadn’t heard of the term Online Dating ‘Catfish’ until I started to research modern methods of dating to offer women advice on the new rules of 21st century dating and relationships.

If you’ve never heard of a Catfish either then let me put you in the picture… and this is VERY important if you’re searching for love through online dating sites, or considering joining one.

Now, I don’t want to scare the living daylights out of you but I think it’s my duty as an educator and a coach to make you aware of these rotten, dishonest fraudsters so you can be on the look out. Forewarned is forearmed, right?

The majority of these predators are based in Africa, mainly in Nigeria and Ghana. But when they create profiles on online dating sites and social media sites they look like white Western-looking guys just looking for love.

They often go hunting around the Net and steal other people’s photos from their social media sites and invent a great profile and story that pulls their victims in.

They are VERY CLEVER and know the power of the emotional energy people put into online dating – sadly sometimes the rational part of the users brain is somehow overruled by the need to be loved, and this is where the vulnerability takes place.

Here are a few tips to help you spot the Catfish right away

Their photo seems too good to be true – almost like a model. Let’s face it, if they were that good looking would they need to be looking for love online?

One very clever way to catch them out is to do a search on the website TinEye to check and see if the photo has been uploaded somewhere else online. If the photo shows up in other places then they are not genuine

No photos on their profile – on some of the online dating sites you can’t register until you upload a photo – but on some you can. No photo usually means they have something so hide, so be warned.

They have a perfect life as a pilot, brain surgeon or industrialist – again use your common sense – would they be looking for love online? Maybe, but just be on your guard until you know more about them.

False social media accounts with very few friends or followers. Catfish are being very clever and set up false social media accounts so you think you’re actually checking out a genuine person – but the whole thing is a SCAM, especially if they have very few friends on Facebook.

Be especially wary if they try to get you off the dating site to communicate with you by email or phone.

Most of these fraudsters will invent a hard luck story to pull at your heart strings for example, a relative needs urgent medical treatment, or they’ve had a car accident – then they ask you to give them money to help them out.

Asking you for money – you should NEVER part with any money and if you have any suspicions then contact the National Crime Agency or the equivalent authority in your part of the world.

Don’t be drawn into their hard luck stories – they are playing on your emotional state of mind. Also pay attention if they never use your name and also call you ‘Darling’ or ‘Baby’, this is a sure sign they are also contacting other women with the same story.

By always addressing you by a pet name they’re making sure they don’t get mixed up, calling you by the wrong name could alert you something was amiss.

They are especially good at targeting the very vulnerable by looking for clues in their online dating profiles. Are you coming across as too desperate in your profile? Unfortunately, some women tend to pour out their heart felt pleas when looking for their soul-mate online.

You just have to take a look at some of your friends Facebook updates to get what I mean, right?If you think you’re coming across as a bit vulnerable then ask a friend to take a look at your online dating profile and make sure you are not sending out the wrong messages.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this rather long article, I don’t want to worry you unnecessary about online dating and I do want you to have fun… but just look out for these ‘red flags’ of the Catfish and enjoy the adventure!

Some Reasons People Become Catfish

There can be all sorts of reasons why people become Catfish online [create fake profiles], but two I’ve read of this week are: one woman who did it to fool her employers and a man who did it to kill his girlfriend, by posing as an online stalker before he killed her.

One woman did it to humiliate her boyfriend and one man created 130 fake Facebook accounts to harass his sixteen year old girl friend. See link at end of article. **

While to many it can seem pretty harmless creating fake profiles and becoming a ‘Catfish’, and of course it can be just someone with low self esteem trying to live out a fantasy life online, to the victims it can cause pain and upset, even death in rare cases.

Other reasons I’ve heard of why people become Catfish is to check up on their partners or previous partners, to try to lure them to see if they take the bait or just to nose around on their Facebook page as someone else, if the person has blocked them. Sometimes they do it to appear anonymous on Facebook so that people they know won’t recognise them.

It’s a minefield as there are estimated to be around 83 million fake Facebook accounts. The best thing you can do as a social network user is to protect yourself by looking for the signs that someone is a fake. If you answer YES to any of these questions about your Facebook friend, then it should hold up a red flag:

1. Does your FB friend’s profile picture look too good to be true? Quite often they look like models or celebrities or just extremely attractive.

2. Do they have few photographs and none taken with friends and/or family?

3. Is there no tagging of photographs by themselves or friends?

4. Does the information they say about themselves sound too good to be true? For example, they are in the modelling business, a fashion designer, etc.

5. Do they have only a few friends listed on their page?

6. Are there few posts on their wall and lack of comments by friends?

7. Do you just ‘have a feeling’ that somehow they are too good to be true?

8. Are they always making excuses why you can’t see them on webcam or get to meet them?

9. Have you been asked for money by the suspect Catfish? If so, it could be a Nigerian Scammer behind that profile pic or some other con artist.

10. Has this person declared undying love or got keen far too soon? Another red flag.

Protect yourself by:

1. Dragging and dropping their ‘perfect image’ into Google image search, it might throw up photographs of that image elsewhere online and you might find they are posing as someone else to others.

2. If you are arranging to meet up, ensure you talk to them on webcam first so you can see they are the person in the photograph, or failing that, get them to take a photograph of themselves holding up that day’s newspaper clearly showing the date or a card with your name on it. Of course, if they are the person they say they are, it still doesn’t mean they’re not trying to con you in some way!

3. Google their full name. If they are supposed to be a successful model, designer or other, their name should show up somewhere online, if it doesn’t, see it as a probable red flag.

4. You can also contact a couple of their Facebook friends to ask what they know about the person, although you may need to be careful how you set about doing this. Chances are they might not know them either or it could be the suspected Catfish has other profiles they’ve added as friends.

5. Often if a person is a Catfish they will keep making excuses why they can’t send you a photograph, appear on webcam or keep breaking potential dates and they often have elaborate excuses, such as they were involved in a car accident, their parent was suddenly taken ill, so see anything like that as a potential red flag.

6. There are various websites where you can discover a person’s location from their email address or email header info. Here’s one:

http://www.ip2location.com/free/email-tracer

7. It’s possible to waste a lot of time with a Catfish online as they keep dangling that proverbial carrot, so give yourself a time limit and think if so and so hasn’t proved him or herself by such and such a date, they’re not worth bothering with. With today’s technology it’s not that difficult or expensive for someone to get a webcam or send a photograph to show they are the person on their profile pic. If they can’t do that, it’s the biggest red flag of all!

Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

** Article link: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20123755-504083/calif-man-creates-130-fake-facebook-profiles-to-harass-ex-girlfriend-pleads-no-contest/