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Friday, August 23, 2019

Scam: Online Dating Romance Scam

I am not sure what it is about nigerians and scams - the two seem connected so often. And in this particular case some of the scam nigerians were located in California.

Here is an example - when you report scams to the FTC, how officials do not typically work on individual cases, but look at trends and try to go after the "bigger fish". Romance scams can wipe out the entire savings of elderly people. It takes an orchestrated effort of a group of scammers to successfully pull off romance scams - and they have to succeed at enough of them to support all in the scam group.

Scammers know, with the fake buyer scam we typically see, that if they keep their "take" relatively small and under the radar, the officials don't focus on those cases. So you will typically see them try to steal about $1500-$5000 from their victims. So that is their strategy. Keep the amount of stolen money low and just try and succeed at a lot of them.

Does that mean you don't report yours? No - I would still report any scam where actual money has been lost. You are still contributing to trends and what officials look at. An example is when Texas got hit with a lot of "ransom" scams. The volume was high enough in a targeted area to (a) make the news and (b) get the attention of the authorities.

Okay. So romance scams have red flags to watch out for just like the fake buyer scam. There is a very prescriptive way scammers move through a romance scam. It has a script. Red flags briefly are: (1) their photos to you all seem too good to be true (and are often stolen from online... to an reverse image search on Google or get a family member to help you do one), (b) they typically use a lesser known dating site and send a lot of relentless messages with vague or irrelevant information - typically trying to get you to believe their fake "backstory", (c) relationship is moving too fast - they may even send small token gifts and some go for the long haul - trying to gain your trust over months...but have some reason why meeting face to face is never possible (they will have one last minute excuse one after the other), (d) they WILL ask for money - often a small token amount to begin with, to warm up their victim, and then they will go for larger and larger amounts, typically with some back story - a family member is having a health crisis, a business needs just a little cash flow help, they are trying to get a visa. It is all fake and intended to get your money.

This is a tough scam - they do target lonely and older women and if those lonely older women are not sharing what is happening to them with family members, it is hard to intervene to give them an objective perspective. Usually other family members find out too late. But if you are having an online romance, check to see if any of the photos have been stolen from online and really (your children can help you do a reverse image Google search) - and really - just do not give ANYONE money if you have not met them in real life... and even then there are local scammers and I think it is just not smart to give money to someone in a new relationship. We want to be trusting and kind to others, but first be smart and protective of yourself!

Here is the CNN article they reported on today:

Men in California oversaw a romance scam that targeted women worldwide, feds say

By Faith Karimi, CNN

Updated 6:26 AM ET, Fri August 23, 2019

(CNN) In March 2016, a man claiming to be a US Army captain stationed in Syria reached out to a Japanese woman on an international site for digital pen pals.

Within weeks, their relationship grew into an internet romance with the man sending daily emails in English that she translated via Google. The man who called himself Terry Garcia asked for money -- lots of it -- from the woman identified as FK in federal court documents. Over 10 months, she sent him a total of $200,000 that she borrowed from friends, her ex-husband and other relatives to make her love interest happy.

But in reality, Garcia did not exist. It was all an international online scam ran by two Nigerian men in the Los Angeles area with the help of associates in their home country and other nations, federal officials say.

And Thursday, US prosecutors charged 80 people -- mostly Nigerians -- in the widespread conspiracy that defrauded at least $6 million from businesses and vulnerable elderly women.

Of those, 17 people have been arrested in the US so far and federal investigators are trying to track down the rest in Nigeria and other nations.

[ read more ]

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Scam Email: 'Save Yourself' Ransom Type Scam

This isn't the usual fake buyer scam we deal with so often on this blog, but I've been getting a lot of these emails lately and I felt it was time to post a warning to help others.

The scam type is called 'ransom scam'. The scammer typically will say they have incriminating photos of you via malware they were able to install on your computer, etc. Then they ask for money before they 'release the photos'.

Here is an example of what I've been getting a bunch of lately from scammers. It lists an actual previous password of mine (which I will obviously not show in the example below) but one of these scam emails to you will actually display a password of yours.

Here is the thing: they haven't likely installed any malware on your computer. How did they get your password? Likely from one of the many many data breeches many online companies have experienced. They did not get it from your computer. And I'm hearing online that the password is likely pretty old - so if you are someone who never changes their password AND/OR someone who uses the same password for various things online - it is time to CHANGE that behavior! There are software programs out there that protect and help you manage many different passwords now... use one of them.

I could tell the password the scammers are using with me was one of my old passwords, no longer in use. But you can see how this scam could work on a lot of vulnerable people.

Don't reply to these emails, don't click on anything... except the delete email button.

But it IS a good reminder to change up your passwords periodically and don't use the same one for everything.

Okay - here is the actual text of one of the many I've been receiving:

From: Save Yourself []
Subject: You got recorded - [actual password listed here]

Hi, I know one of your passwords is: [actual password listed here]

Your computer was infected with my private malware, your browser wasn't updated / patched, in such case it's enough to just visit some website where my iframe is placed to get automatically infected, if you want to find out more - Google: "Drive-by exploit".

My malware gave me full access to all your accounts (see password above), full control over your computer and it also was possible to spy on you over your webcam.

I collected all your private data and I RECORDED YOU (through your webcam) SATISFYING YOURSELF!

After that I removed my malware to not leave any traces and this email(s) was sent from some hacked server.

I can publish the video of you and all your private data on the whole web, social networks, over email of all contacts.

But you can stop me and only I can help you out in this situation.

The only way to stop me, is to pay exactly 1000$ in bitcoin (BTC).

It's a very good offer, compared to all that horrible shit that will happen if I publish everything!

You can easily buy bitcoin here: , , , or check for bitcoin ATM near you, or Google for other exchanger.
You can send the bitcoin directly to my wallet, or create your own wallet first here: , then receive and send to mine.

My bitcoin wallet is: 1Nq84HeDmd2JGyRtjqh32QRG4zoSrp8bdL

Copy and paste my wallet, it's (cAsE-sEnSEtiVE)

I give you 3 days time to pay.

As I got access to this email account, I will know if this email has already been read.
If you get this email multiple times, it's to make sure that you read it, my mailer script is configured like this and after payment you can ignore it.
After receiving the payment, I will remove everything and you can life your live in peace like before.

Next time update your browser before browsing the web!

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