Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FBI Issues Internet Scam Alert

Since everyone who reads this blog is obviously on-line, I thought I would pass a long a series of scam alerts that FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center has issued recently.

The IC3 has received over 70 complaints since July 2011 reporting fraudulent e-mails claiming the recipient had been issued a traffic ticket. The spam, which spoofed a nyc.gov e-mail address, claimed to be from the New York State Police (NYSP). Complainants, throughout the U.S. and internationally, reported that the e-mail indicated a traffic ticket had been issued against them as a result of a moving violation.

Most of us are familiar with fraud involving automobiles being sold over the Internet. A fraudster will post a nonexistent vehicle for sale on the Internet, typically a luxury or sports car. The details of the vehicle, including photos and description, are typically lifted from legitimate websites. An interested buyer, hopeful for a bargain, responds and is told that the vehicle is located overseas. The fraudster then instructs the victim to send a deposit via wire transfer to initiate the shipping process.

In a new twist to this scam, the fraudster advised there was an issue with the initial wire transfer and sent the victim a cashier's check. The victim was instructed to cash the check and resend a second wire to a different account. Unaware that the check was counterfeit, the victim followed through as instructed by the fraudster. This resulted in the victim getting duped two times and the fraudster accomplishing his "double-dipping" strategy.

The IC3 has received complaints reporting fraudsters for misrepresenting themselves as Kelley Blue Book (KBB) agents to swindle victims out of thousands of dollars in online vehicle purchases. Upon finding a vehicle and making an inquiry to the seller, the complainant was told that the transaction must go through KBB's escrow-based buyer-protection plan to protect both of them. The fraudster claimed that the protection plan would hold the buyer's money for a five-day period while they could receive and inspect the vehicle. The fraudster then sent the complainant a link, which was purportedly to the KBB website, providing details of the process. Some complainants reported that the fraudster sent pictures of the vehicle as well. Once the purchase was agreed upon, the fraudster sent the complainant an official-looking e-mail, purportedly from KBB, instructing them to wire the payment to a KBB agent.

Upon contacting the actual KBB company, complainants were advised that it was a scam and that KBB does not offer an escrow-based buyer-protection plan. Recent articles have been posted on the KBB website warning consumers of this particular scam.

More information about all of scams, as well as a series of other ones, is available on the Internet Crimes Complaint Center's web site.

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