Feb 13, 2015 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2This week in phone fraud, police fight swatting attacks and Pindrop presents its large-scale telephony honeypot.

On Monday, the BBC reported on the arrest of alleged swatter, Brandon Wilson in Las Vegas. Wilson, known by his gaming handle as “famed god,” has been charged with computer tampering, intimidation, fraud, and ID theft. In a separate incident on the same day, another popular gamer, Joshua Peters, was swatted during a live broadcast of his Twitch TV stream.

Also this week, postdoc Payas Gupta presented at the 2015 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS) in San Diego, CA. The presentation was the culmination of a collaboration between Pindrop Security and Georgia Tech to create the first large scale phone honeypot for the purpose of detecting and tracking automated callers or “robocallers.”

newsletter-bannerFull Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

Huffington Post: Are You Your Own Worst Enemy When It Comes to Identity Theft? – I believe that breaches have become the third certainty in life, right behind death and taxes. More than 1 billion consumer records containing some form of personally identifying information have been exposed to hackers over the past 10 years.

Roll Call: Phone Scammers Target Congressional Offices – The Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms sent out a notice about illegal phone phishing incidents, involving callers trying to elicit sensitive information about the Senate network, including IP addresses, files present on Senate computers and how to obtain remote access.

USA Today: IRS warns about “dirty dozen” tax scams How are schemers ripping off the IRS and taxpayers as the 2015 tax-filing season revs up? The nation’s tax agency has counted the ways in its annual list of “dirty dozen” tax scams. There’s been a surge in aggressive and threatening phone calls by scam artists who impersonate IRS agents.

NPR: How Scams Worked in the 1800s – Con artists, chiselers, four-flushers and grifters had their own methods and behavior patterns, she says and “that is exactly what the police could use to catch them.” Today we are familiar with some of the larger rip-offs, such as three-card monte and the Brooklyn Bridge sales.

Find Biometrics: Voice Month: The Place for Voice Biometrics – The greatest boon of voice biometrics is it’s hands free nature, an aspect that in the past has given it the title of “invisible biometrics”. Though this clearly positions voice recognition as ideal for mobile and wearable tech deployments, allowing for convenient and contactless authentication.

National Retail Federation: Your Voice is Your Passport – Biometrics Research Group notes that the market for fingerprint technologies accounts for the greatest share today of the global biometrics market —Frost & Sullivan says it expects most future biometrics growth to come from facial and voice authentication technologies.

Daily Mail: Rein in the cold call firms which harass Alzheimer’s victims – Firms that bombard Alzheimer’s sufferers with cold calls must be reined in, the Information Commissioner says. Christopher Graham said the Government was ‘letting people down’ by refusing to strengthen legislation to stop people being harassed by calls.

Motherboard: Tinder Bots Have Evolved to Mimic the Girl Next Door – Valerie Bradford, a Pindrop product marketing manager who contributed to that blog post, said one trend they do see with heightened online security is that “many fraudsters will take the same scams to the phone channel.”

Financial Reporter: One in ten pensioners victims of financial scams – Almost one in 10 pensioners have been targeted by financial fraudsters during their retirement, new research from MetLife shows. Its nationwide study among retired people found 9% say they have been victims of financial scams or targeted by financial scammers.

Tech Crunch: Scammers Now Targeting Anthem data Breach Victims Via Email and Phone – A one-two punch for the victims of the Anthem data breach: individuals impacted by the massive cyber attack are being warned that they’re targets for scammers trying trick the victims into revealing additional personal information.

Bank Info Security: Anthem Breach: Phishing Attack Cited – The health insurer also warns members to beware of anyone who calls them to discuss the breach. “Anthem is not calling members regarding the cyber-attack and is not asking for credit card information or Social Security numbers over the phone,” it says.

South Wales Argus: Pension phone scam targets ex-miners – Charity Age Cymru is warning of a new telephone scam that is being aimed specifically at former miners. Under the new scam, the caller tells the ex-miner that his pension may be increased under new government rules if he sends off a £200 fee for his claim to be investigated.

Komo News: Scammers use psychology to trick victims out of life savings – “They were so gullible and so vulnerable. He could just morph into one thing after another,” West said. “He would pray with my mother and say, ‘You’re the mother I never had’ and ‘I love you so much’.” In all, the family lost more than $200,000.

Christian Science Monitor: What are police doing to prevent swatting? – Most swatting cases are now handled by local authorities, and the FBI suggests that potential targets inform local police about any swatting threats they may receive online. According to the Bureau’s blog, such threats typically come from the online gaming community.

Cnet – Why you should never Google tech-support numbers – It sounds harmless enough: The printer won’t print, so you hit up your favorite search engine and look for a tech-support number for the printer manufacturer. That’s the fastest way to find it, right? Allow me to relate a true tale that was just shared with me.

USA Today: Banks want to open cellphones to robocalls – Industry lobbyists have asked the Federal Communications Commission to exempt them from rules that largely bar computer-generated cellphone calls and texts to wrong numbers or without a recipient’s permission. Their goal: to be shielded from liability, specifically lawsuits.

Krebs on Security: Phishers Pounce on Anthem Breach – According to Anthem, fraudsters also are busy perpetrating similar scams by cold-calling people via telephone. In a recording posted to its toll-free hotline for this breach (877-263-7995), Anthem said it is aware of outbound call scams targeting current and former Anthem members.

Malwarebytes: Phone Scams Forum – Your company (TechBuddies Online, Inc.) called me and insisted that my computer was not safe, and the staff stated that it is imperative to “fix it.”  I had AVAST software  however I allowed them to provide services.  Unfortunately, now my computer will not start after the services TechBuddies Online, Inc. performed on February 6, 2015!

Bloomberg Business: Scammers Begin Phishing Anthem Plan Members – The insurer warned Friday that customers should beware of phishing e-mails that solicit personal information. Scam artists are also trying to trick consumers into revealing personal data over the phone. Anthem will contact affected people via the mail.

NY Daily News: Air Force veteran reduced to tears after alleged ‘swatting’ prank – An anonymous caller reported someone a shooting inside the home. The sound of gunshots was added in the background for good measure. When armed officers arrived at the residence, they expected the worst. Instead they opened the door to a 10-year-old boy.

ITV: Five fraudsters jailed for more than 17 years – The group stole more than £40,000 after they tricked 11 people into handing over bank cards and PINs. Some 1,200 cold calls to members of the public were made by the gang. One victim lost more than £20,000 over the course of 30 days when members of the group kept up the pretense and phoned her every day asking for more money.

LA Times: Giving ‘Rachel’ telemarketer an earful – Officials have a hard time shutting Rachel down because numerous telemarketing outfits are now running the racket, often employing the same recordings. Every time the feds track one group down, another pops up to take its place. “It’s an ongoing plague,” Levitt said,

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