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

Top Stories

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

Top Stories

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

Baker Fraud Report, March 7, 2024

Chainalysis issues 2024 crypto crime report

John Oliver HBO program on crypto romance scams and scam call centers in Myanmar; very good, complete, and includes humor. Runs 45 minutes

FTC warns never to move your money to another account to “save it,”  this is always a scam

BBB issues annual scam tracker risk report

  • Those 18-24 lost the most money
  • Contacts with scammers on social media were up to 64%
  • Crypto romance scams also increase 

Tip of the week: We know that scammers pay to post sponsored links at the top of search results. So when the public uses Google to look for the phone numbers of social media, tech companies, and many other organizations they find  numbers posted by scammers and end up calling them.  So let’s all do a search for our own organization to be sure scammers aren’t using our names.

Full report here

Baker Fraud Report February 22,2024

Top Stories

FTC releases fraud data for 2023

  • Complaint numbers up a bit; losses jump 21% to over $10 billion
  • Most money lost to “investments,” meaning crypto romance fraud, at $4.6 billion; a 21% jump
  • Next most complained of were government/business imposters
  • Largest amount of money lost by bank to bank transfers
  • Those 20-29 years old lost money in 44% of complaints; those over 70 only 25%, though older group lost larger amounts

Singapore police release 2023 fraud data; fraud up on Meta platforms, including Facebook and Instagram; job scams top the list

China-sponsored hacking group has been infiltrating US electric utilities and emergency management services

FinCEN sends alert to financial institutions warning of crypto romance “pig butchering” frauds

Pet scams are now using sponsored ads on Google to appear at the top of search results; 31% of recent complaints about pet scams identified this tactic; sites usually registered from Cameroon

International effort seizes the infrastructure of Russia-based Lockbit, one of the largest ransomware groups

Full report here

Baker Fraud Report February 1, 2024

Identity Theft Assistance Center releases 2023 report, data breaches up 72% from 2022; affected 353 million individuals

FBI IC3 warns of sharp increase in tech support scams asking people to buy gold and other precious metals and send couriers to pick it up

UK reports fraud was down 13% last year, so it still the most reported type of crime; tech support and lottery fraud down

Europol: In extensive European effort police arrest 15 in major crackdown on Nigerian confraternities engaged in smuggling drugs, human trafficking and fraud

Huge amount of romance fraud enforcement this week.  As you can see below, a huge amount of great work has been done recently.  Why? Possibly it will promote education efforts around Valentine’s Day. But whatever the reason, these are welcome efforts.

full report here