Feeds

WikiLeaky phone scam targets unwary in US

You peeked! Now pay up

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A new voicemail phishing scam uses the threat of non-existent fines for visiting WikiLeaks to prise money out of panicked marks.

Prospective marks are robo-dialled by an automated system that states their computer and IP address "had been noted as having visited the Wikileaks site, and that there were grave consequences for this, including a $250,000 or $25,000 fine, perhaps imprisonment".

Potentially panicked victims are given a number to phone to discuss payment options, if they're daft enough to be taken in by the ruse.

The scam, which involves the use of spoofed phone numbers, takes advantages of VoIP systems to minimise the cost of calls to crooks, who are probably using stolen access to corporate PBX systems in the first place.

A woman who received the scam voicemail phishing (vishing) call reported the incident to the Central and Eastern Kentucky Better Business Bureau, which issued an alert warning of the ruse and quoting sensible general advise on avoiding phone-based frauds in general, from US consumer watchdog the FTC.

Robert Schroeder, northwest regional director of the Federal Trade Commission, said: “Consumers who get phone calls from strangers need to keep their guard up, especially when the caller makes threats based on bogus accusations – that the consumer has failed to pay an old debt, or has committed some kind of crime, and has to pay up immediately.

"Insist on a written statement of what you owe. Don’t pay it if it’s fake. Don’t provide your bank account, credit card, or social security number. And report the threat to the FTC and your state attorney general - and, if it’s a threat of personal harm, call the police.”

Threats over supposedly illicit activity online have previously been used in scams targeting file-sharers or porn surfers, and seek to panic marks into paying up in order to avoid supposedly dire consequences. Much the same approach has now been applied to target surfers visiting Wikileaks - which is, of course, perfectly legal, and without consequences for ordinary US citizens.

However, as the BBB advisory explains, if you are military personnel, this type of call could seem very real or hold more significance: the US Pentagon openly banned military personnel from visiting Wikileaks for security reasons.

Wikileaks created a huge media frenzy towards the end of 2010 with its release of leaked US diplomatic cables. The appearance of scams based on this incident illustrate that any sufficiently big news event these days is likely to become the theme of cons. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.