Friday, May 20, 2005

Robin Hoods Against Internet Fraud

In the international fight against on line scams, there is an interesting site, "Artists Against 419"(click on title to view). Some believe they are responsible for the recent hacking of "phishing sites". Here are some other sites from around the world that attract people who try to fight internet fraud- The 419 Coalition, Scam-O-Rama, 419eater and 419Legal. Some of these sites promote "baiting" fraudsters into thinking they have a "dupe" on the line. Please engage in this at your own risk.

419, or Advance Fee scams mutate frequently and involve, check fraud, wire transfer fraud, credit card fraud, telecom fraud and of course identity theft

Here is a (List of fake lottery web sites). Lottery scams have become a prevalent form of internet fraud. Last, but not least (The Ebola Monkey Man) is a unusual "editorial" on these types of scams.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Heroes in the Identity Theft War

The news is calling them "vigilantes". Common folk might refer to them as heroes. With the majority of "Phishing" occuring from overseas, it seems sometimes like little is being done about it. "Phishing" is a newer form of on line fraud where a victim is enticed by fraud e-mail, or misdirection to a fraudulent site with the intention of stealing their personal information. When this happens, good people's financial means are ruined. Even if they aren't financially ruined, they face a mountain of red tape just to get their personal affairs back in order.

Because people are frustrated, phishing sites are being taken down by ordinary citizens. They are fighting this form of on line fraud by putting warnings on the sites. Many of the sites are being identified by the Netcraft Toolbar community. They offer a tool bar that detects "Phishing" for free at:

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Close Call for Check Fraud Informant

I read a pretty scary article today. An informant working undercover on a check fraud case for the postal authorities was assaulted when she went into a house in Indiana. Because she was wearing a wire(hidden microphone), police overheard the assault and the informant was rescued. When the house was searched a body bag and a shovel were found. This illustrates that some extremely dangerous criminals are involved in the fraud business.

The criminals involved in check fraud are normally always involved in identity theft. Here is an earlier post about the impact of identity theft.

This case was being investigated by the postal authorities. Here is another post about counterfeit postal money orders, prevalent today in lottery and auction scams. These scams normally relate to an advance fee (419) scam, where a victim is tricked into performing a wire transfer back to the criminal, who is normally somewhere overseas.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Rumor of Increased Sophistication in Phishing

Cyota, which is a security services company, is reporting a newer more "sophisticated" type of phishing attack. This attack uses stolen consumer data (identities) to obtain specific banking information, which in turn is used to steal the money of the victim. Cyota will not disclose the names of the banks, but intimated that they are some of the largest financial service providers in the country.

Fraud e-mails are being sent to targeted individuals (victims) that contain bank account numbers, personal identification numbers (PINS) and other personal security data. The victims are then solicited for whatever additional information is needed to steal their money.

In the recent past, we have seen large amounts of information stolen from data bases:

LexisNexis/Seisint (310,000 people)
DSW Shoe Warehouse (1.4 million people)
ChoicePoint Inc. (145,000 people)
Polo Ralph Lauren (180,000 people)

In the post preceding this, I told of a case where 9,000 people's identities were stolen from "Merlin Information Services". Merlin provides information to law enforcement and a wide range of investigative and collections personnel.

Recently, the latest threat in "Phishing" has been keyloggers. Phishing is becoming one of the most prevalent forms of on line fraud. Here is a previous post on them.

Note that if you search the internet, they are openly sold to spy on children, spouses and employees. You will also see a lot of "anti keylogger" ads selling you software to see if someone is spying on you. Sometimes, I am amazed at all the programs sold on the internet touting the ability to spy on people. Quite frankly, in the wrong hands, they can be dangerous.

Given these developments, a prudent person should verify all electronic and voice solicitations for information, even if it appears the person on the other end already has their "security information".

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Identity Theft at Investigative Agency

A "Fraudster" recently got into an investigative firm's databases and stole 9,000 identities. The customers of this firm included law enforcement, private investigators, collection agencies and insurance companies. The "Fraudster" posed as a customer (professional investment advisor), claiming that information was needed to perform due diligence on investors. The company "Merlin Information Services" was tipped by Federal Agents, who were watching someone, described as a "criminal".

Thus far, none of the identities have been compromised (used in identity theft schemes). Merlin is buying a $50,000.00 "Identity Theft" insurance policy for each one of the people and is providing free "credit monitoring" for them.

It appears that identities were taken from all over, with California showing up with the highest number stolen.

According to a Forbes article, Identity Theft cost U.S. citizens 52.6. billion last year. Quoting the FTC, the amount of occurrences doubled last year. This probably doesn't take into account cases that were not reported and doesn't include the rest of the world.

This illustrates that the world of fraud and identity theft is indeed a murky one. The criminals are getting both smarter and bolder by the day. The only way to stay ahead of them is become smarter than they are through (education and communication).