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Apr. 17 – The Week In Phone Fraud

TWIPF2This week in phone fraud, the New York Times puts a face to the grandparent phone scam victims, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shuts down a robocalling fraudulent debt collection ring.

Christine Sneed of the New York Times published a sad personal essay on her experience with a phone scam targeting the elderly. Sneed writes that her grandfather lost $6,000 to a phone fraudster. The con-woman used personal family information found in Sneed’s other essays published online to convince the elderly man that she was his granddaughter and needed the money for bail. As a result of the fraud, Sneed writes that her grandfather will no longer speak to her over the phone, afraid that it might be another fraud attempt.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has shut down what it says is a robocall debt collection ring that harassed people into paying millions of dollars they didn’t owe. The phantom debt collectors convinced people the calls were legitimate by ticking off personal information about them, including their Social Security numbers, dates of birth and employers’ names.


Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

CB Insights: 10 Cybersecurity Companies to Watch – Cybersecurity financing is exploding and giving rise to a number of companies trying to tackle a myriad number of cyber threats. We highlight 10 Series B cybersecurity companies that have recently raised financing and which may be worth keeping an eye on.

Internet Crime Fighters Organization: Wrong Phone Number Scams – As part of attempts to gather financial information from customers, cyber-criminals are reserving phone numbers that are similar to the contact numbers of banks, credit unions and other financial institutions, according to security firm Pindrop Security.

LA Times: FCC asked whether phone companies can do more to block ‘robocalls’ – The phone companies worry that automatic call blocking might run afoul of laws requiring them to connect phone calls and have asked the FCC to clarify. They also don’t want regulators to create any hard-and-fast rules, which they say could be difficult to implement.

Daily Mail: More than half of over-65s have been targeted by con artists – More than half of over-65s have been targeted by con artists, putting the savings of 5.7 million pensioners at risk. Hundreds of thousands have lost money to fraudsters after being contacted by phone, over the internet or in person, a major study reveals.

Nearshore Americas: AT&T Fined $25 Million for Customer Data Breach at Mexico Call Center – Call center data fraud is nothing new, but the settlement highlights the vulnerability of such centers. According to research by Pindrop Security, an Atlanta-based “phoneprinting” start-up, one in 2,900 calls to contact centers are attempts at identity theft.

FTC Blog: Stand up to fake debt collectors – The caller is irate, intimidating and — despite the foul language — sounds convincing. He says you must make good on a payday loan. You might start questioning your memory: “Did I miss a payment? The caller has my information, so this must be legit…”

Coloradoan: CSU students targeted in latest phone ‘spoof’ scam – Scammers are using the Colorado State University online directory, as well as social media, to target students and employees by posing as law enforcement in yet another ploy to swindle residents into money exchanges, officials say.

Albuquerque Journal: Call center helps you get through a scam nightmare – If you or someone you know needs basic information about fraud and perhaps some emotional support, there is a resource provided by AARP. The Fraud Fighter Call Center is staffed by volunteers who can provide counseling, a reality check and advice.

Chicago Tribune: Utility phone scam draws warning – One business owner reported that a man calling himself “Bob” said the company’s bill was overdue, and that his power would be shut off within 30 minutes, police said in a news release. The business owner questioned “Bob” extensively until “Bob” hung up.

The Columbus Dispatch: Some Ohio income-tax refunds are whoppers – The state instituted a quiz for those receiving refunds to cut down on identify theft and fraud. A letter requests them to go online and verify their identity. A typical call? “I got this letter; is it legitimate?” Testa said. It probably is, but you should call the state to make sure.

WTSP: Hudson hotel hostage scare case of swatting – The Pasco Sheriff’s SWAT team has given the all clear after a report of a hostage situation at a Hudson hotel. Police have called the report a swatting incident. Swatting is when someone calls in an emergency and tricks an police into dispatching a team.

CSO Online: Dabbling in two-factor authentication can be dangerous – Phishing and other credential theft attacks provide attackers with an initial entry vector into a victim’s network, and also enable them to move laterally within the network to reach the eventual target. Attackers will find the path of least resistance.

Forbes: IRS Tax Phone Scam Claims More Victims Than Ever as 2015 Tax Day Arrives – This scam is a result of the technology that usually make our lives easier. As with email scams where criminals use the cover of anonymity and proxy servers, IRS scammers use blocked calls, private calls and untraceable numbers to hide behind.

This Is Money: How a sinister new twist on those phone call scams cost Jenny £4,000 – In a fiendish new twist on the phone scams sweeping Britain, Jenny Tofts was duped by supposed court officials who rang out of the blue and then persuaded her to make a payment to call them off. ‘It was so unbelievably convincing,’ says Jenny.

Network World: Yikes: 10,000 IRS impersonation scam calls are placed every week – While the hearing was supposed to detail what was being done to combat the IRS scam in particular, not much detail on that was offered by any of the participants. In fact Collins took a shot at the Department of Justice for not testifying.

Ars Technica: The new spam: interactive robo-calls from the cloud as cheap as e-mail – I asked Nick why his company was using a system that tried to make people think that they were talking to a human being. He laughed and replied, “It’s not trying to fool them—it’s a computer.” This way, his company didn’t have to hire as many people like him.

Bank Info Security: RSA Conference 2015: Banking Preview – While the topics of interest to financial organizations at RSA Conference 2014 revolved around breaches that exposed payment card data, this year’s event will be more focused on attacks that aim to destruct and compromise data.

NBC News: Imposter’ Tax Scam Worse Than Ever, Congress Holds Hearing – The Senate Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), wants to find out what law enforcement can do to stop these phone bandits. This outrageous fraud is now much larger than even the numbers are telling us, said Sen. Claire McCaskill.

New Jersey 101.5: Anti-swatting lawmaker becomes the victim of a swatting stunt himself – Moriarity (D-District 4) was was forced to come out of his home with his hands in the air Saturday . About a dozen officers were outside his home as he came outside. “Some sick, evil person had reported that there was a shooting at my house,” Moriarity told NBC 10.

Fay Observer: Homefront Operations: TRICARE Scam – I was almost a victim of a scam that is happening in our military community. A call center recently called me. The person on the phone claimed to be calling me about a TRICARE policy change in regards to pain medications. I knew that there was something off.

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