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Phishers target frequent flyer schemes in Brazil

Phly-phishing phreebooters pillage air miles

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Phishing fraudsters have latched on to a new target, with attacks designed to gain compromised access to frequent flyer accounts.

The well-established class of scam, which normally involves attempts to trick victims into handing over online banking login credentials to a bogus site, often as part of a supposed security check, has now been turned towards customers of Brazilian airline companies.

Bogus messages promise more points or a supposed prize but actually only offer a chance for crooks to capture login details. Access to compromised accounts is then traded as a currency on the digital underground. For example, one crook offered to rent access to a botnet for either $60 or 60,000 air miles. In other cases, air miles are offered in exchange for stolen credit card details.

Ultimately tickets are issued on a no-questions basis to people in on the scam, who are likely to be using a fake ID to travel.

Brazilian phishers running the scam have registered multiple domains that resemble those of airline firms. Some of the attacks rely on a first wave of Trojan infections that makes sure that surfers using compromised machines are redirected to bogus domains, net security firm Kaspersky Lab warns.

Local victims are beginning to come forward, complaining that their accounts have been plundered in order to issue tickets to unknown parties. One victim claims to have lost air miles valued at $7,600, a figure that seems rather high.

Phishing scams are most commonly targeted against PayPal, online banking accounts, or (less frequently) e-commerce website accounts. Attacks against air miles programmes are a much more recent innovation, with one of the first attacks of its kind appearing last month, targeted against the loyalty programme of a German airline. The scam used a variant of the SpyEye banking Trojan.

Kaspersky Lab analyst Fabio Assolini said the Brazilian attacks are technically similar but more highly evolved because they have led to the creation of a new currency in the local underground economy. A full write up of the scam can be found in a blog post by Assolini here. ®

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