Fraud Report May 16, 2024

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Can I get rid of spam email?  Under federal law those who send email have to have a working unsubscribe feature.   The FTC enforces this. But I got some emails recently, and when I hit unsubscribe and found that I needed to reenter my email address.  As you’ve probably guess I’ve since started getting a flood of spam.  I’ve not seen any enforcement from the FTC for years against spam emails. This industry clearly has some organization, and some of my spam is on behalf of at least of some legitimate organizations like the AARP.

FTC warns that if someone claims your social security number has been used IT IS A FRAUD

Spain and Italy arrest 106; bust Italian mafia group that was doing BEC and other frauds; laundered money for scams; operated from the Canary Islands

Full report here

Fraud Report May 9, 2024

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Another troubling story about a fraud victim.  As I’ve previously reported, 74 year old Ann Mayer was arrested for trying to rob a credit union in a Cincinnati suburb recently. She had a gun, had taken the license plates off of her car, and had mentioned robbing a bank to family members recently.  She was arrested and charged.  She had no criminal record.  She got $500.

Family members say she was a scam victim herself, and had been sending money to an “unidentified individual.”  News articles also say that she’d lost tens of thousands of dollars; others say she lost her life savings.

But we don’t know anything about the scam.  Was this a romance fraud?  Did the scammer encourage the robbery?  Have they tried to track down the scammer?

Police in Bosnia, Lebanon, Albania, Kosovo shut down 12 scam call centers, arrest 21; scammers were doing romance scams, investment fraud, and fake police calls

Investigation finds Chinese operation has created at least 76,000 websites for designer goods; 800,000 victims in the US and Europe; victims don’t get counterfeits; instead get nothing or something wholly different

Wired:  NigerianYahoo boys on the internet often don’t even try to hide; have 16 Facebook groups with 200,000 members; a dozen Youtube channels, more

India busts 76 tech support operations across the country, work with Microsoft and Amazon

Iowa: Three arrested for impersonating police and sherriff’s deputies, telling people that they had to pay or they would be arrested; met victims in person

US sends cybercrime advisor to Nigeria, and country adopts the 2022 international cybercrime convention

full report here

Fraud Report May 2, 2004

Important case about older scam victim.  I’ve reported before about William Brock, an 81 year old Ohio man who shot and killed an Uber driver who came to his house to pick up $12,000 for a grandparent scam.  Apparently he had been told that his nephew was in a car crash in Charleston and had been arrested.  Brock tried to get the phone from the Uber driver, which she refused, and he shot her when she tried to leave.  Brock called 911, the police came, and the police answered two subsequent calls from the scammer, who said he was with the police himself. Brock  is charged with felony murder.

The news articles give a few interesting facts

Apparently Uber assisted. The phone call to the Uber driver was from Canada, and was from a burner phone.  And there are some questions the articles don’t answer/

  • Was this the first time Brock had provided money in this scam?
  • Was the Uber driver aware that this was a scam?  Or was she simply being paid to pick up a package? 
  • Why did the scammer want to know what hospital the driver had been taken to?
  • Was there any other useful information on her phone?
  • Were they able to track the credit card number used by Uber?

New Australia Anti-Scam Centre issues first report, for 2023

  • Complaints up 18.5%
  • Reported losses down a bit from $3.1 billion to $2.74 billion
  • Top frauds reported were investments (likely crypto romance fraud); tech support fraud, and romance fraud

Warnings issued across the US and Canada of huge spurt in text messages claiming fines are owed for speed cameras and road tolls.  Example

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center releases 2023 report on fraud against victim over 60

  • Complaints up 14% over 2022
  • Losses reported of $3.4 billion
  • Tech support by far the most common fraud
  • Biggest losses were in crypto investment frauds
  • 15% paid by crypto

Full Report here

Fraud Report April 18, 2024

Ohio: 81 year old man who grandparent scam victim shoots and kills Uber driver who came to pick up the money; driver apparently not involved with the scam

Comment about revenge taken by scammers on victims by Professor Anthony Pratkanis:  Historically, these sorts of revenge attacks on con grifters are not uncommon.  That is why con criminals have developed extensive methods for “cooling out the mark” and “the blow-off.”  And they seemed to do that in cases like this as well, either by hiring a legit Uber driver or by placing another (lower level) person who is in on the scam between them and the victim.  I think people are becoming increasingly upset and angry at the level of fraud and scams we are all experiencing.  A recent study found record levels of people reporting that they had been the target of a fraud attempt and a desire for action to be taken to stop these scams.

US cyber agency issues emergency alert to federal email systems using Microsoft over threats by Russian hackers; must take immediate steps

Russian hackers got access to emails between Microsoft and the US government

Brooklyn: Canadian/French citizen gets ten years prison for mass mailing fraud claiming to be a psychic and telling people they would win large sums in a lottery; victims had to send back $20 or more; took in $175 million; used names Maria DuVal and Patrick Guerin

BBB updates my 2020 study on nonexistent vehicles sold online

  • Complaints to the BBB jumped sharply in 2023
  • Scammers also advertise campers, motorcyles, farm equipment
  • New is scammers send people to a fake VIN search site, claiming to be like Carfax; victims enter credit card numbers, get charged
  • Three quarters of victims over 45
  • Original study here

Oxford and New South Wales Canberra release study on top countries responsible for cybercrime

In order, Russia, Ukraine, China, US, Nigeria, Romania, and North Korea

Full report here

Fraud Report April 11, 2024

New Zealand operation targeting those sending scam text messages causes 80% decrease in scam complaints

New Trend: Crooks appearing in person more and more.  Until recently it was extremely rare for victims to ever met scammers in person. But of late we have increasing reports that they are sending people in person to pick up money from victims in grandparent fraud, tech support fraud, and now IRS scammers.  It seems unlikely that they would send anyone who has useful knowledge of the scam organizations. But this does indicate more of an opportunity for scam victims to alert law enforcement and to see scammers actually arrested.

Full report here

Fraud Report April 4, 2024

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FTC impersonation rule goes into effect; FTC releases data on business and government impersonation fraud

  • These nearly half of all fraud reported to the FTC, and has jumped five-fold since 2020
  • Losses of $1.1 billion in 2023
  • Initial contacts by phone are down; emails and texts are up
  • Scammers claim to be:
  • Security alerts, phony subscription renewals, fake law enforcement, supposed delivery problems; phony giveaways
  • Money sent through bank to bank transfers and bitcoin

Los Angeles: Romanian man gets 75 months prison; headed group that used skimmers to steal food stamp benefits

full report here

Fraud Report March 28, 2024

Los Angeles: Man and two Chinese men sentenced to 15, 10 and 8 years for laundering gift cards from phone fraud victims; handled over 5000 cards that were liquidated at Target stores

Biden administration announces “strike force on unfair and illegal” prices to be headed by FTC and DOJ antitrust division; to focus on prices of drugs, housing, food, and financial services

DOJ indicts seven hackers from the Chinese government; targeted journaliss, politicians and companies perceived as critics of Chin

Crypto romance ALERT.  We really need to increase education on this one.  I think it is now the most common fraud in the world.  Losses to this fraud last year were more than those from all frauds together just four or five years ago.  IC3 reported $4 billion lost to romance fraud; it had total losses for all frauds of $3.5 billion in 2019.

Full report here

Baker Fraud Report March 21, 2024

Study looks at worldwide statistics on complaint data and types of romance fraud

Review and recommendation: I watched Judgment at Nuremburg again last night. This 1961 classic involves the trial of Nazi judges for their action supporting the Third Reich.   It has a fantastic cast, headed by the great Spencer Tracy.   The film reminds us that it is important for good people to stand up against the currents of popular opinion.  Hitler did not just appear from nowhere, he built on intellectual currents and ideas developed in the universities. 

Full report here

Fraud Report March 14, 2024

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FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center releases data for 2023

  • Reported losses in 2019 were $3.5 billion; 2023 $12.5 billion
  • Crypto romance fraud was $4  billion
  • Tech support fraud up significantly
  • $60 million paid to ransomware
  • Job and government impersonation also big jumps

Interpol ties Nigerian scam gangs Black Axe, Airlords and Supreme Eiye to kidnappings to work at scam call centers and widespread crypto romance frauds

Australia’s scam call center issues quarterly report

Investment fraud (crypto romance) drops 38%

Joseph Epstein in the WSJ: All scam callers get from me is a little taste of Gershwin

Full report here