Feeds

WikiLeaky phone scam targets unwary in US

You peeked! Now pay up

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.