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August 21 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2 This week in phone fraud, extortionists target Ashley Madison users and phone fraud surges in China and Hong Kong

Earlier this week, the hackers responsible for the attack on Ashley Madison finally released the data stolen in their breach. This included names, phone numbers, addresses, and private details. Brian Krebs reports that he has verified that the data is real, and that Ashley Madison users are already receiving blackmail attempts.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported China and Hong Kong are seeing a spike in phone fraud. Attackers are impersonating police, intimidating victims into transferring large sums of money. Phone fraud is now 4x as prevalent as it was in 2011, and may be even higher. Many victims are afraid to report the crimes because in China, asking for police to open a criminal investigation is noted in a person’s individual file.


Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Universities Tackling cybersecurity worker gap (Subscriber only) – Training students to understand how to think like hackers enables them to create the best defenses, which will inevitably result in new startups, said Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Atlanta-based Pindrop Security, which employs more than 125.

Krebs on Security: Extortionists Target Ashley Madison Users – People who cheat on their partners are always open to extortion by the parties involved. But when the personal details of millions of cheaters get posted online for anyone to download, random blackmailers are bound to pounce on the opportunity.

ABC 7 Chicago: IRS Scammers Caught in the Act – Herweck said the calls from people pretending to be IRS agents won’t stop. If I didn’t pay the amount of money, $2,986.98, right over the phone with them, the sheriff’s department would be out within a half hour to arrest me, Herweck said.

The Daily Beast: South Carolina’s Coming Robocall Apocalypse – At issue was a state law that specifically targeted political robocalls. The law mandated that said robocalls only communicate with voters by leaving messages on their answering machines; if voters answered the phone, the line would go dead.

CNBC: Are Ashley Madison users at risk of blackmail? – Pilfered data can be used in myriad ways, however—a health insurance hack might publicize health conditions or a stint in rehab, for example, while bank breaches could disclose how much credit card debt you have.

Business Insider: The Ashley Madison hack is a goldmine for blackmailers that puts people in real danger – Email dumps and financial details are frequently stolen and sold in bulk online because of the potential for fraud and identity theft. Throw into the mix detailed portraits of people’s sexualities and you have a recipe for serious blackmail.

Daily Report: Baker Donelson Hopes Cybersecurity Event Unlocks Israeli Business for Atlanta – Daniels named four growing Atlanta cybersecurity startups: Bastille, Ionic Security, Pindrop Security and NexDefense, which he said are “giving the city a name for cybersecurity.” He noted that NexDefense moved here from Silicon Valley.

FBI: Former Manager of Telemarketing Room Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy and Money Laundering – According to court documents, they made unsolicited calls to owners of timeshare propertiess. They claimed that UTSA had a purchaser interested in buying a timeshare, and that the owner just needed to pay a fee between $1,600 and $2,200 for the sale to proceed.

Pindrop Security: Pindrop Security Appoints Mike Vandiver as Chief Financial Officer – “2015 has been a tremendous year of growth for Pindrop. With his deep understanding of high-growth technology companies, Mike further solidifies our leadership team at this pivotal time,” said Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop Security.

The New York Times: Online and Telephone Fraud Surges in Mainland China and Hong Kong, Officials Say – Law enforcement officials in China and surrounding regions have reported a surge in online and telephone fraud by criminals who, with a powerful mix of technological and psychological savvy, pose as Chinese officials and cheat people of their life savings.

The Orange County Register: Don’t answer that robocall: Why having a landline phone leaves callers open to fraud – But increasingly, Ralston’s strategy is futile. Most of his callers are robots, and most of the billions of calls they make to Ralston and others are illegal. The telemarketing world likes Ralston, 82, for two reasons – he usually answers his phone, and that phone is a landline.

FTC: FTC Awards $25,000 Top Cash Prize for Contest-Winning Mobile App That Blocks Illegal Robocalls – The FTC would like to thank its contest partners, Pindrop Security and CRTC, for their support throughout the contests. Staff would also like to thank the DEF CON community for welcoming them back to host the contest at their annual information security conference.

Credit Union Journal: Three Steps to Mitigate the Risk Within – Thirty percent of financial-related fraud losses are call-center related, according to a recent study from Pindrop Security. For a credit union, maintaining a positive reputation is critical to serving its member base.

The Northwestern: Fraudulent insurance calls targeting consumers – The messages say the Marketplace needs to update the consumer’s application, and to do so they need the consumer’s personal information. This phone number is not associated with the Marketplace or

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