Posts Tagged ‘scam’
Another day, another attack on people using gadgets to get on the internet. This time, something called Freak Attack (which sounds like an ace ’80s horror b-movie) is causing a headache for users of Android and Apple devices.
The good news is that there are no reports of this weakness being exploited (yet) and that the relevant companies are working quickly to shore up the flaw… but where has all this come from? Well, researchers reckon that the problem comes from code that came about from old government policies which required software developers to use weaker security in encryption programmes, thanks to that old chestnut of ‘international security concerns’.
The flaw is to do with web encryption technology, which could potentially enable bad people to spy on what you’re doing if you use Safari or Google’s Android browser.
Around a third of all encrypted sites were vulnerable as of yesterday, as sites continued to accept this weaker software, which affects Apple’s browsers, the Android browser, but not Google Chrome browser or the latest versions from Firefox or Microsoft.
Apple and Google have both said that they’ve fixed the Freak Attack flaw, with Apple rolling theirs out next week and Google saying that they’ve sent out the goods to device makers and wireless carriers.
Obviously, this highlights the problems with governments interfering with encryption codes, even when dealing with national security. This old policy has come back to bite it on the arse, as it could well do the opposite of what it was intended to do, and actually give a helping hand to criminals.
Until a rollout occurs, you’d be wise to use Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft’s browser or, indeed, ride your luck until the new security measures are in place, if you’re feeling saucy.
Another day, another hack and this time, customers of TalkTalk are being warned after a load of account numbers, names and personal details were stolen from them. Be on the lookout for people trying to scam you, basically.
In an email sent to all TalkTalk customers, the company said that ne’er-do-wells were using the swiped details to try and trick people into handing over their bank details. If you received the email, you’ll find a special phone line to call if you’ve been targeted.
The number is 0800 083 2710.
This scam was discovered after TalkTalk found that there was a very sudden spike in people complaining to them about scam calls at the end of last year. A spokesperson said: ”We have now concluded a thorough investigation working with an external security company, and we have become aware that some limited non-sensitive information may have been illegally accessed in violation of our security procedure.”
It seems that the hack came about via a third-party who also had access to TalkTalk’s network and, as a result, the company will be taking legal action against the aforementioned third-party.
“We are aware of a small, but nonetheless significant, number of customers who have been directly targeted by these criminals and we have been supporting them directly,” said a statement from TalkTalk.
The scam in question involves customers getting called up and, with the stolen details, the scammers are trying to convince you that they’re a legitimate TalkTalk representative who tries to sell them security software. So, if you’re a customer and someone from TalkTalk rings you up and asks for your bank details, tell ‘em where to sling it.
Remember the fella who bought a photocopy of a MacBook for £300? Some thought it was kinda funny, while others didn’t like to see someone being scammed, leaving everyone else to shout pointlessly on about Android versus Apple.
Well, now that the hubbub has died down, the scammed man in question is trying to do something good with the whole scenario.
Paul Barrington is selling the piece of paper on eBay in a bid to raise money for the British Lung Foundation.
On the seller notes, he’s written: “Item can be a little stiff to close and sometimes a bit slow to start up. Some of the keys may appear slightly smudged and the screen is stuck on the same image.”
Arf. He’s added on the auction page: “This is clearly an auction for a piece of paper… however, this is no ordinary piece of paper because on it is photocopied in glorious black and white the picture of the laptop I thought I had purchased.”
“Now I know what you’re thinking already (trust me, I’ve read the comments) “If it looks too good to be true then it probably is?”. However, this slimline piece of paper is littered with plus points that would make the new owner the envy of his friends and colleagues. First of all how about I tell you that this piece of paper is worth at least £300? That’s right – three hundred quid. I can assure you of that because that is what I paid for it. “You deserve everything you get as you didn’t read the listing properly” I hear the other 50% of commenters cry even though they clearly haven’t read any of the previous comments stating the same thing believing that they were the first to make such a witty retort.”
“This may well be the most famous piece of photocopied paper in the world right now and has featured far and wide with its story and notoriety. I will send the paper in the same ridiculous little box that it was sent to me in and hopefully you will be slightly less disappointed than I was when it arrives.”
“As you all probably know (some of you better than me it seems) I have a small problem with my lungs or in other words they are knackered. This keeps putting me into hospital where I am now on first name terms with all the lovely staff on the ward at North Devon District Hospital. I have got my money back from eBay for the scam that I was duped into. So all of the sale price of this fine Slimline A4 laptop paper will go directly to the British Lung Foundation in the hope that they can use the money to further develop treatment and cures for people like me that just want to get better and carry on with life.”
So there you have it. He’s got his refund and is now trying to raise some money for charity with all that press he got. We’re only to happy to share this and we should hope that other outlets do too.
If you think a deal is too good to be true, chances are, it is. Unless you’re looking in our Deals of the Day, of course. Either way, if someone is offering you a MacBook for £300, you’ve got to be wary.
One man who wasn’t, was Paul Barrington who saw the deal on eBay and thought he’d got himself an absolute steal! He parted with his money and waited. When it arrived, he found he’d spent all that money on a photocopied picture of a MacBook instead.
Look at his sad face.
Of course, MacBooks set you back around £1,500 if you’re buying them new and, if you’re getting one second-hand, they’re not going to be much cheaper.
Paul had apparently sold his treasured surfboard to buy the device, as he wanted to start gigging as a wedding DJ.
He said: “I sold my pride and joy for a piece of paper. It’s the first time I haven’t had a surfboard since I was 10 years old but I need a laptop so I checked the listing and the seller’s rating.”
“He’d been a member for a few years, so there was nothing to be suspicious about. I was excited about winning the auction and just thought, ‘I’ve got a laptop so I can start the business. The package was as light as a feather. Why bother sending a picture in a box? It doesn’t make any sense. I almost had to laugh.”
Paul has of course, reported this scam to eBay who are going to get back to him. Anyone who has dealt with eBay before, stop laughing. Here’s the auction.
Have you been using an app called WhatsApp Plus? Well, stop that at once! You see, WhatsApp have banned some users from using the app for 24 hours because it is a third party application and it violates the ‘terms of service’.
WhatsApp have asked their users to uninstall WhatsApp+ and install the authorised version of WhatsApp from official website or Google Play if they want to resume normal service. This other app isn’t related to WhatsApp, which means it has code that isn’t supported by the company and, worse still, if you get hacked and your details and photos leak, they won’t be taking any responsibility for it.
So if you’ve been sending photos of your junk to people through this third party app, you’re asking for trouble.
WhatsApp are treating the Plus app as malware and, in their FAQ section, they’ve said: “WhatsApp Plus is an application that was not developed by WhatsApp, nor is it authorised by WhatsApp. The developers of WhatsApp Plus have no relationship to WhatsApp, and we do not support WhatsApp Plus. Please be aware that WhatsApp Plus contains source code which WhatsApp cannot guarantee as safe and that your private information is potentially being passed to 3rd parties without your knowledge or authorization.”
In short – stop using it, alright? Good.
Crazy Chinese people news now, and a man has been arrested after trying to smuggle 94 iPhones into China. You might not think that this is mental at all…
…but this man tried to do it by strapping them on to his body, of course.
The man caught the attention of inspectors at the Futian crossing in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese metropolis bordering Hong Kong, who noticed the gent was walking a little funny carrying a couple of carrier bags, and was waved through when there was nothing suspicious found in the bags.
However, when he went through the metal detector, the alarms went off and he was busted.
Photos released by customs show dozens of neatly shrink-wrapped shiny iPhones strapped around the man’s chest, abdomen, crotch and thighs with duct tape. Dude clearly went to some right effort.
iPhones are quite the thing in China, with consumers going nuts for the gadget ahead of the launch of iPhone 6 last year. Apple handsets are also more expensive in the mainland than Hong Kong, due to higher import taxes. Fr’instance, an iPhone 6 with 64 gigabytes of storage, sells for almost $1,000 in the mainland but only about $820 in Hong Kong, hence a bit of a black market has sprung up.
This isn’t the first case of iPhone smuggling the authorities have seen, Shenzhen customs officials disclosed that they have caught 18 mules strapping smuggled electronic products – including 282 iPhones – on, or in their bodies since December.
One can only applaud the audacity and madness of the man who thought “Yeah. 94 iPhones strapped on my body. That’ll work. NO ONE WILL SUSPECT A THING”.
But in Mandarin obviously.
On OS X Yosemite, you may have noticed that Apple’s Spotlight search function is rather sophisticated, allowing you to search the web as well as peering into your machine for content too. All very clever.
However, it also has a flaw that could well expose your local information to nefarious types. Not so clever.
So what’s going on? Well, the weakness focuses on Apple Mail. Basically, as Spotlight Search indexes emails that have been received within Apple’s email service, it also shows previews of your emails, your images and such.
All a hacker would need to do is to insert a tracking pixel into one of your email’s images and hey presto! They could well be enjoying access to your data!
While the email is in your inbox, you can ignore scams, but Spotlight’s preview function opens up a vulnerability. Seeing as Spotlight opens previews of your junk and spam messages, this could be a problem. Even if you have switched off the “load remote content in messages” feature, it doesn’t exactly fix the problem.
Until Apple issue a fix, the best thing for you to do is to go to your Mac System preferences and switch off email indexing.
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has shared their new, tougher guidelines, making payment service providers get serious about customer identification before payments are processed.
There’s good reason for this too – in the last four years, the yearly cost of card fraud in the UK has jumped up from £365 million to somewhere in advance of £450 million! Two thirds of that came from the dastardly practice of ‘skimming’, where small amounts of money are continually removed from an account in the hope that the victim won’t even notice.
Of course, there’s been an increase in digital snidery too, with ne’er-do-wells using malware and the like. There’s also the tried-and-tested tactic of just nicking your card too.
Anyway, all this means is that you’ll carry on as normal while fraudsters will have to learn a new set of tricks to try and get at all your precious money.
Staff at a branch of Dominos in Linlithgow, West Lothian face a grilling after they were caught buying cheap jumbo bags of potato wedges from Aldi and then trying to pass them off as Domino’s own brand.
The cheapo wedges cost only 59p from Aldi, whereas Dominos wedges are a staggering £3.49 for a tiny box. But staff say they’d run out due to Wimbledon and the World Cup, and they were just trying to keep up with an unprecedented demand for wedge action.
A customer spotted what they were up to when he went in to order a pizza, and said: ‘I had a bit of a chuckle – but it’s really cheeky flogging Aldi products as their own.’
Domino’s bosses explained the problem.
‘With big sporting events in full swing, the Linlithgow store was faced with no wedges. We do not advocate this as a solution. We have spoken to the store to ensure ordering has been adjusted and our customers get Domino’s wedges.’
It’s actually pretty enterprising when you think about it – and it also very much begs the question: ‘is there a scientific correlation between major sporting events and potato wedges?’
Well, the Citizens Advice have revealed that one in six complaints about products or services advertised on Gumtree, and one in 10 about sales at eBay, are scams or potential scams.
The CA’s analysis looked at 649 problem cases involving Gumtree and 3,711 at eBay.
Problems included scams advertising housing and job scams, as well as motorists buying second-hand cars and then finding out that there was a logbook loan attached.
Other scams include the classic ‘paying for something but getting nothing in return’ on things like phones and, weirdly, pets. Apparently, businesses are being stung as well as people just shopping for themselves. Companies are contacted by other firms offering cheap advertising which transpire to be cons. There’s an increase in scams on fake tickets for the Commonwealth Games, where people are being offered expensive stubs, and getting nothing back.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Online marketplaces are at risk of becoming a hotbed for scams. These sites are an important service for buyers and sellers, but con artists are profiting from them too. Scammers are swindling people out of hundreds or thousands of pounds by posting false products and services online.”
“Con artists are preying on those still trying to get back on their feet from the recession. Fake jobs and phoney homes are taking people’s deposits that they strived and saved so long for.”
As a result, CA want eBay, Gumtree and others to police their sites better.
If you think you’ve been scammed, then visit citizensadvice.org.uk or call 03454 040506 (03454 040505 for the Welsh speakers among you).
Imagine, you’re slumbering happily, and then suddenly you wake up to a message on your phone from some mysterious dobber/s calling themselves ‘Oleg Pliss’, telling you you’ve been hacked. Not only that, but your phone will be locked until you pay them a ransom of $100 via Paypal.
Well, this is what happened to Apple users across Australia in the early hours of Tuesday morning, who found themselves phoneless and iPad-less thanks to the hackers. Some were woken to alerts in the night, and others, when they came to use their devices, found that they were locked.
So who, or what, is Oleg Pliss, and how did they manage to lock random devices across a whole country? Well, users reported a breach of the ‘Find My Phone’ app – which means they could have accessed devices through the iCloud and then set them to ‘lost mode’.
Or if they users had the same passwords across a number of devices, that might explain it, too. But at the moment, nobody knows.
As for who Oleg is, there are a few theories – there’s a guy called Oleg Pliss who works as a software engineer at tech company Oracle, and a few dotted about on Linkedin in Ukraine and Russia.
Unfortunately, victims of the hacking have reported getting short shrift from Apple and mobile providers. And apparently Vodafone told one customer that ‘Apple can’t be hacked.’ (Hmm, REALLY?).
Apple have yet to comment, probably because they have no idea how Oleg and his pals actually did it…
Jamil was given a four-month sentence and nearly £25,000 in fines, compensation and court costs for his role in the Microsoft scam.
Making people pay for free software? Sounds like something Dell would do.
“We believe it may be the first ever successful prosecution of someone involved in the Microsoft scam in the UK,” said Lord Toby Harris, chair of the National Trading Standards Board. “It’s an important turning point for UK consumers who have been plagued by this scam, or variants of it, for several years. Many have succumbed to it, parting with significant sums of money, their computers have been compromised and their personal details have been put at risk.”
If you haven’t heard of the scam, Jamil set up a company called SmartSupportGuys and went on to hire some call centre workers in India, getting them to phone people from Britain as phoney ‘Microsoft Certified’ engineers. They would then try and convince people to allow remote access to computers where they are made less secure, then of course, fixed for a price.
The software used to fix the computers was available for free from Microsoft and dopes were charged between £35 and £150.
“Now that one of the many individuals who’ve been operating this scam has been brought to justice, it’s a stark warning to anyone else still doing it that they can be caught and will be prosecuted,” Lord Harris added.
Scam merchants are everywhere, and now they are even trying to mis-sell Government green incentive schemes in an attempt to separate you and your money.
Investigations across the country, but concentrated in South Wales have discovered a number of less than reputable sorts are deliberately misleading people into signing up for the Government’s Green Deal scheme. The scheme allows you to access funding for energy-efficient home improvements like cavity wall insulation that will (theoretically) reduce your bills. However, the amount funded is actually a loan, and it is repaid by adding a levy to your bills. The idea is that the energy savings will go some way to cancelling out the loan repayment increases to your bill.
Sounds simple in practice. However, a number of cold-calling firms have been neglecting to mention to homeowners that the funding is actually a loan that requires repayment, giving shivering householders the impression that they can be warmer for free.
The firms, who often have the word Green and/or Deal in their name, have been accused of targeting older people, with widespread examples in Swansea in particular. Welsh consumer programme X-Ray launched an investigation following complaints from consumers who said they were under the impression they would get a free new boiler if they paid the assessment fee. An assessment fee that can sometimes be more than small change- like Green Deal Direct customer Julie Hibbert from Ogmore Vale, who paid £359 for a non-free boiler.
When X-Ray researchers posed as customers they were wrongly told that the Green Deal was not a loan and that they qualified for the scheme – even though they needed to have an assessment of their home first. In addition, one of the firms, Green Deal Network – which has refused a comment to BBC Wales – wasn’t above inventing random additional benefits, like a reduction in council tax that would be applied once their homes were made more energy efficient.
Across Wales and England only 219 Green Deal plans have been completed but X-Ray has received more than 250 complaints from viewers who say they have been misled by cold calling companies.
Hooray. It’s December. That means everything is now officially mince-pie scented and dusted with picturesque snow that never actually arrives. Even Trading Standards (or specifically the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB)) have been hitting the sherry are getting in the Christmas spirit and have produced a “Twelve Scams of Christmas” that you just have to sing along to…
Twelve Vishers Vishing
Vishing has caught a lot of people out recently – consumers have already lost £7million to this scam, according to Financial Fraud Action UK. Scammers call victims pretending to be a bank, building society or similar official and attempt to get personal information. Consumers must remember that their bank or building society will never ask for details over the phone – they already have them
Eleven Alarming Alarmists
The National Scams Hub is warning consumers about a possible burglar alarm scam where consumers receive a cold call from a company offering to install security systems. The security system may be free or available at a nominal cost but the on-going maintenance cost is high and there is a daylight-robbery cancellation fee.
Ten Dodgy (Car) Dealers
Not very festive, but apparently yuletide is also a time to be wary of buying second hand cars, as greasy second hand car salesmen might be clocking the car to make a few extra quid.
Nine Grants Disappearing
It’s like something from your Christmas list- an email from the ‘Commonwealth Secretariat’ and ‘HM Treasury’ telling explaining that you qualify for a free £1,000 grant to be paid directly into your bank account. Unfortunately those who gleefully hand over said bank details will normally see more than the fictional grant disappear…
Eight Council Tax Bands- a- Playing
Getting your property rebanded for Council Tax purposes could save you a pretty penny, always assuming you have a genuine case and you fill in the relevant forms from the Valuation Office Agency (available free). Still, these pesky facts don’t bother claims company fraudsters who are happy to take your money and run- North-West Scambuster investigations discovered that less than 0.1% of claims submitted by companies claiming they can obtain council tax refunds are legitimate. You just pay high, up-front fees to a company that does no work on your behalf.
Seven Computers Crashing
Sometimes the old ones are still good. The National Scams Hub and trading standards are warning of a simple scam where the victim receives a bogus call from a computer company claiming that they had been alerted by the internet provider to a serious virus attack. The scammers tell the victim the only way the problem can be fixed is to buy a special computer programme. You can guess the rest.
Six Alternative Investments
Targeting the ‘more money than sense’ brigade (and we all know a few of those) these cold-callers offer attractive ways in to a range of exciting investments- diamonds, wine, carbon credits (?!)- but at hugely inflated prices, and with magical disappearing companies. Some cat is getting the cream, but it’s not the hapless investor.
Five Doorbells Ring
December is not the warmest time of year to be knocking on doors, but this time it’s not carol singers ringing your bell. Bad weather is used by rogue traders to convince some residents that they need unnecessary and often substandard home improvements at extortionate prices. Or by unscrupulous
energy companies to pressurise the elderly and vulnerable into signing expensive service contracts.
Four Calling Loans
Christmas (and January) are often times when money is tight,and that’s where loan companies sidle in offering relief. The National Scams Hub says many people have received unsolicited text messages or telephone calls from firms offering them an unsecured loan. Those who accepted were charged large, upfront fees for little or no service.
Three Free Trials
Christmas and New Year is also free trial target time. Whether it’s trying out a one-day delivery service, a film streaming service or a weight loss programme, these companies make their money on the guarantee that people will forget to cancel the trial in time, or worse, require notice of cancellation of almost the same period as the trial itself.
Worse, some scammers hide expensive contracts in amongst the fine print and after customers enter their card details to pay for the post and packaging on a freebie, the nasty people use these hidden contracts to regularly take sums of moneys from the victim’s account.
Two Bogus Charities
While no-one wants to curtail the season of goodwill, the NTSB just want to make sure you are actually giving to charity and not to some clever scammer lining his own pockets. Consumers should be wary of vague statements on packaging such as ‘donations for work creation’ or ‘donations to poor children’ and look for registered charity numbers where you can. Also check things like charity collection bags to make sure they are destined for who you think they are- before you fill them
And a dangerous toy under the tree…
The NTSB want to stress that, while a cheap toy or electrical gadget might seem a bargain, sub-standard foreign imports will not adhere to safety guidelines and have the potential to be dangerous for kill unsuspecting gift recipients. And that will not make a merry Christmas.
NTSB chairman Lord Toby Harris, wearing a red suit and white beard, chortled: “Last year, UK adults spent an average of £592 on Christmas. At a time of year when we know consumers will be parting with hard earned money, it is imperative that they be made aware of current scams. The NTSB encourages all consumers to check the legitimacy of chosen traders before buying gifts or committing to contracts.”
Consumer Minister and part-time elf Jo Swinson advised: “The first thing people should do is follow the old adage – if something sounds too good to be true than it usually is. If something is not quite right or they are being pressured into buying goods or services they don’t need, then they should report this to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06. They can ask trading standards to investigate claims and make sure consumers get a fair deal.”