Monday, April 30, 2012

BACIWA Impostors & other Scams Part III by Han Shrng

Criminals have kept themselves up to date with current trends and technologies in our changing world. Unfortunately, most members of the general public have not. This is a primary reason why the new scams/ruses of criminals work. Of course, our reality is no loner limited to the real world but also to the virtual reality. People are getting more and more into social networking media in the internet. Since the internet is a relatively young import to the Philippines (since at least the mid 1990’s, if my memory serves me right), many Filipino users are still not fully aware of the different, and imaginative, ways that criminals, hackers included, could use to trick gullible victims. Many account holders at Facebook, especially teens, indiscriminately post personal details and photos in their FB pages, not realizing that such can be used for unscrupulous activities by cyber criminals. Without going into specifics, just let me tell you that criminals can use your personal details when planning something bad against you. One of these could be identity theft. So be very discreet and choosy in posting things about you in FB and in cyberspace in general. This brings us to the next point, not everyone that you chat with or “know” in the internet is who you think they are. Statistics in the US have shown that predators, pedophiles among them, have been lurking in the internet, posing as teenagers, with the intent of luring their victims to meet them, and from there do their evil plans. If you make a research on the net, you’ll see that law enforcement units in the US have apprehended a number of these criminals. As a rule of thumb, never assume that every detail given out by people in the internet is true. You may be honest but you can not say the same for chatmates you’ve only met in the internet. And don’t be fooled by their handles; it doesn’t mean that since it’s female sounding, then it is. And yes, if you’re using a public internet facility, always make sure you log out from your Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts. A friend of mine failed to log out from her Facebook account and the next time she tried to open it, she can no longer do so. Apparently, somebody, who used the same unit after her, had changed the password for her FB account and made changes in her account, her name included (the culprit combined her name and her daughter’s name). The photos were still there. Although it wasn’t apparent what the infiltrator has in mind, it was obvious that it was a form of identity theft. If this ever happens to you, make sure that you report such abuse to FB so they will close down your compromised FB account. Your emails are also not safe from hackers. Of course, everybody is familiar with the Nigerian scam and its variations, where somebody with supposedly a high stature from an African or some other country contact you and ask for your help and in exchange a large sum (in millions, of course) will be given to you. If you receive such emails disregard them outright. They’re nothing but scams. They are simply based on man’s greed for money. Simple logic here is, how did he know my email? Who am I to be capable to help him, when I’m from another country? These basic questions alone will tell you there’s something really fishy about the message. Several months back, I received an from email from Ms. Ann Garrucho of Negros Daily Bulletin stating that she was in Spain and that she was in trouble and needed money to get out of that mess. Now, the email address was correct but what didn’t right was the contents of the email. If Ms. Ann did go to Spain I would have known it first hand, or at least through NDB. Upon closer scrutiny it’s simply a variation of the Dugo-Dugo modus operandi I have discussed in Part II of this series but using the email delivery system as a medium. Of course, I didn’t reply to the message. It was obvious it was a scam. What I did was inform the owner of the email ad. If this happens to you, make sure to inform the hacked party so he/she can spread the word to his/her circle of friends and save them from being victimized. Since then I’ve received some other similar emails from “friends.” Other hackers on the other hand will send weblinks to your email using email addresses that are registered in your contacts. These pages contain viruses, and possible malware/spyware. I usually don’t entertain such emails. For those who are using their credit cards to transact in the internet, it is best to do it in a secure line, that is, your own connection and in your own home. When you go to SM City Bacolod you’ll see a lot of individuals accessing their laptops at the foodcourt because the place is wifi ready. However, be warned that in such condition hackers can easily intercept you when you key in the details of your card. Once your card details have been accessed just expect a humungous bill in your next billing date. Still on credit cards, if someone calls your home and introduces himself as “from the bank” or “from the credit card” company, make sure to ascertain his identity. Either you ask for his number and call him back or call your bank to verify. It must be pointed out that you should NEVER give out your card number and other card details over the phone to somebody whose identity you have not ascertained. Vigilance is a must. As I’ve pointed out before in Part I of this series, also orient your househelps. Instruct them not to indiscriminately give out sensitive details over the phone. Questions such as “How many are you in the house,” “What time does your boss usually go home,” “Where does your boss usually pass by,” etc. should raise a few red flags. The public should realize that criminals nowadays do data gathering before going into their operation. This will ensure them a higher success rate. In the Ceneco heist, the culprits had an intensive data gathering before the actual robbery, about a month at least. So far, we have discussed impostors visiting your home in Part I, text scams in Part II, and internet, credit card, and telephone based crimes. For Part IV, we will discuss snatching and pickpockets.

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