Y2K bug scams, Nigerian scams, and more:
Internet ScamBusters #33
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
We had some very interesting items (especially about Y2K scams), so we decided to do another "Snippets" issue this month. But first, a quick favor:
Please check out the offer in the Sponsor’s message. It’s about our special Clearance Sale – we want to make sure you know about it. (As you most likely know, we publish Internet ScamBusters as a public service. These kind of offers help pay a part of the cost of running the ScamBusters site and e-zine.) Thanks.
On to this month’s…
Internet ScamBusters Snippets
More Y2K Scams
In addition to the bank account fraud and overpriced survival kits, there are some new Y2K scams, including bogus Y2K insurance, credit card cons, and computer-sellers who trick people into replacing their PCs because their supposedly "non-compliant" systems might explode. Here are a few details:
Credit Card Fraud
According to PCWorld, the most popular Y2K scam tries to get you to divulge your credit card information. For example, someone calls claiming to be a service representative from your credit card company. The caller claims that in order to deal with Y2K problems, the credit card company is sending out replacement strips to stick over the magnetic strip on the back of your credit card. The caller goes on to say that if you don’t get the replacement, you won’t be able to use your cards starting January 1, 2000. Then, the caller asks for your credit card account number for "verification."
NEVER give out your credit card number – or any other personal information – to people who call over the phone or who send you emails requesting it.
Bogus Y2K Insurance
Another way scamsters are trying to get your credit card information is by offering bogus insurance against false billings or lost account information, that will supposedly result because of the Y2K bugs.
Again, don’t give out your credit card information, and don’t buy this bogus insurance.
A Truly Surprising Story
The following hoax illustrates the importance of using common sense with regard to Y2K:
The Australian National Securities and Investment Commission created a bogus "Millennium Bug Insurance Company" online as an April Fools joke in order to test the gullibility of the public. They offered blue chip companies insurance against losses caused by the Y2K bug. But more important, the site solicited investments in the "company" from Internet visitors.
The site had more than 10,000 visitors – and 233 people offered to invest a total of $4 million in the bogus company!
On April Fool’s Day, the investors were told the truth: that the Web site was part of an elaborate scam to teach investors to be more cautious.
Perhaps the most outrageous scam was reported by Newsbytes News Network: fly-by-night computer vendors in the Philippines are conning computer owners into unnecessarily replacing PCs because their systems are at risk of exploding come January 1, 2000, if they aren’t replaced. Others are not quite as outrageous – they just say the systems are at risk because of Y2K noncompliance, and must be replaced.
Obviously, your system won’t explode…
Y2K US Hotline
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has a toll-free hotline for questions about Y2K issues and scams. The number is 888-872-4925.
For more info on Y2K scams, visit:
Real Virus Alert
This week ComputerIndustryWEEK issued the following virus alert to its subscribers.
NAME: Back Orifice 2000 (BO2K) A user-friendly hacker application. Once this ‘virus’ activates on your PC, it enables others to gain control of your computer or network from a remote location – that is, anywhere. Released at the "DefCon" convention in Las Vegas last weekend, the virus’ creators are encouraging others to modify its coding and release their own versions of the bug, making it even more difficult to defend against. To make matters worse, the CDs the creators handed out at the hacker conference were unintentionally infected with a computer virus called CIH or Chernobyl.
IDENTIFICATION The program is not dangerous on its own. But after it is resident on your PC, hackers can use the program to infiltrate your system using "Trojan horse" programs – those that arrive attached to file downloads, email, etc. The program could be used to steal data and monitor your activities from another location. There is no specific ID information available yet. PROTECTION Analysts encourage you to run anti-virus software constantly, or at least frequently. Major anti-virus software vendors are expected to begin offering fixes early this week. — This one is a real hazard for Windows users.
The Nigerian Fee Scam is Being Heavily Promoted Right Now
If you’ve never read about this scam, please do so now. We wrote about it in Issue #11 in November 1996. This scam can be deadly. Visit the ScamBusters Nigerian Scam page.