Feeds

WikiLeaky phone scam targets unwary in US

You peeked! Now pay up

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with 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. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.