Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cyber-Scammers Use "Sucker Lists" to Target Victims

The Internet is full of scam lures involving winning the lottery. The most notorious are those where cons send you a check, tell you to cash it for taxes and tariffs and wire the money back to them so your "winnings" can be released to you. But after you wire the money to them, they fade into the "electronic mist" of the Internet and someone notifies you that the check you just cashed was a fraud.

Unfortunately, the "lottery lure" seems to be so lucrative that I get a spam e-mail just about every day saying I won a vast fortune.

Of course, there are dozens of so-called "legitimate" and often downright "illegitimate" sites out there promising you "inside information" on how to win the lottery. Rumor has it that some of them employ various forms of spyware and even malware to record your personal information, which is then used for other (often) unscrupulous purposes.

If you don't understand how spyware and malware works, I recommend taking the time to educate yourself.

Spybot is a free program use can use to protect yourself from a lot of these nasty programs. Of course, employing anti-virus protection (updated) and even a "firewall" is highly recommended, also. Alex Eckelberry - who is the CEO of Sunbelt Software - does a great blog on computer security - which is a great place to learn about crimeware and how to avoid it.

In a recent article from the "Lottery Post," some of these "Lotto Operators" were scamming senior citizens using information obtained from what they refer to as "sucker lists." Although, I made mention of how information is stolen via technology above - all too often - it is also simply handed over by the future victim in the hopes of "winning the lottery."

As reported in the Lottery Post:

"Using so-called "sucker lists" - lists of consumers who had been defrauded by telemarketers in the past - the defendants called elderly consumers with offers to sell "likely winning lottery numbers" when, in fact, the real purpose was to gain authorization to electronically debit the consumer's checking account."

"The scam began when seniors received telemarketing calls falsely telling them they had been "selected to receive the most likely winning combinations of the Lottery." The caller claimed that the company's "scientific formula" provided the most likely winning lottery combinations."

Of course, the seniors targeted in this ended up having a lot of money charged to their credit cards for "useless" information.

For the full story by the Lottery Post, link here.

If you have been a victim of a telemarketing scam, the best place to report it is the Federal Trade Commission.

1 comment:

Mary Beth said...

Reporting telemarketing scams to the FTC is a good idea. But if the scams originate from Canada (look for the yellow flower stamp- ignore the address they print on the letters) you can also report it to the Royal Canadian Mounties fraud division- the Phonebusters (its kind of a lame name but they do good work) toll free at 888 495-8501.

Plus every scam that uses US mail is in violation of one law or another- you can take the piece of opened mail to the nearest post office and ask them to hand it over to the Postal Inspection service.

Great site by the way...