Feb 27, 2015 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2This week in phone fraud, provides an opportunity for phone fraudsters and Atlanta is named a hub for cybersecurity.

On Monday, Hacksurfer issued a cyber security risk report, listing the new threats of the week. Hacksurfer interviewed Pindrop’s Director of Research, David Dewey, about a potential new threat connected to incorrect tax information from “Anyone registered with will be anticipating a call regarding the status of their account, and may not think twice about answering questions to verify their identity,” said Dewey.

Also this week, TechCrunch and Inc. Magazine declared Pindrop’s hometown of Atlanta as a national cybersecurity hub. They credit Atlanta’s deep pool of cybersecurity talent and the support of Georgia Tech as key factors behind Atlanta’s flourishing tech startup scene. TechCrunch quoted Pindrop’s Paul Judge, “The talent pool here is amazing… That allows us to stay heads down and focus on building and growing.” Since 2010, investors have committed $1.2 billion in venture capital to Atlanta-based startups.


Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

New York Times: Call From the I.R.S? Hang Up. It’s a Fraud – A spate of fraudulent state income tax returns filed using TurboTax’s online software has unnerved consumers this filing season. But con artists also continue to use more traditional means to try to separate taxpayers from their money, like harassing them on the telephone.

Pindrop Blog: The Story Behind Swatting“The exploits are anywhere you give your money. Those are the holes. Anyone you give your money, anyone who has your phone number, anyone who has your address – they’re the exploits. If their support line is based on human interaction, it’s super easy.” -ZeroExFF, Self-Confessed Swatter

TMCNet: Pindrop Security Growing in Call Fraud MarketBalasubramaniyan indicated to Forbes that his company is working with a number of large U.S. banks and retailers. In total, Pindrop has brought in a total of about $47 million in financing that it will use to expand its operations to Europe, Latin America, and countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

FTC Blog: You (haven’t really) won! – I’m happy to report that our sister agency, the Department of Justice, recently extradited a Jamaican man on charges that he was part of an international lottery scheme targeting older adults in the U.S. He’s the first person to be extradited in this kind of case.

PCWorld: Sharp fights fraud with old-school landline phonesSharp’s new landline cordless phone is designed to alert seniors to the dangers of unknown callers. When they receive calls from numbers that are not registered in the phone’s internal memory, their LED bars glow red and the phones go into anti-scam mode.

Find Biometrics: Voice Month: The Roundup – Voice recognition is on the uptick, and February was also filled with applicable industry news. The voice-focused news touched on a wide range of applications. We saw voice biometrics in the cockpit of a plane, used for financial services and even as the subject of some Facebook centered speculation.

The Guardian: It’s time for cold-callers to hang up – You shouldn’t be calling me at all. I signed up for the Telephone Preference Service years ago in order to block this. That doesn’t really work. Only about a third of nuisance calls are prevented by TPS. Which is probably why the ICO received 175,000 complaints about unsolicited calls last year.

Inc.: 4 Ways to Pick the Best City for Your StartupAtlanta’s cyber security success stories include IBM ISS, Airwatch, Damballa, Ionic Security, and Pindrop. These previous successes, paired with the academic grounding of Georgia Tech’s computer-science department, support the unique needs of scaling cyber security companies. 

Pindrop Blog: How the Pindrop PhoneypotTM Can Help Stop Robocalls at CFCA-FIINAIn March, Pindrop co-founder and CEO Vijay Balasubramaniyan will be appear on a panel at this year’s CFCA Educational Event to discuss the phoneypot project. The panel, which features industry experts will focus on the problem of robocalls. A letter to an IRS tax fraud phone scamDear Officer Eric of the “Internal Revenue Service” – Badge number 0242781- phone number (240) 292-0196, You called the wrong number. Sincerely, -Me, the one who’s making your phone number public knowledge. It’s apparently a classic scam now-a-days.

WSFB: Lawmaker proposes fines, jail time for ‘swatting’ – State Rep. Kelly Luxembourg said she wants that to be the punishment in Connecticut. “I hope it is a deterrent – especially for kids who think this is a joke. Because under this proposed legislation their parents would be liable for the cost,” Luxembourg said.

Daily Mail: Companies behind nuisance calls to be fined up to £500k under new crackdown – The communications watchdog will no longer have to prove messages are causing a ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ before taking action against those responsible, including holding bosses personally liable for fines.

MultiChannel Merchant: Smart Card Technology Will Affect Your Fraud Prevention Strategy – This shift to more secure card-present transactions at physical, smart-card ready terminals will impact ecommerce sites as fraudsters are stymied at brick-and-mortar stores and turn their attentions to card-not-present (CNP) transactions online.

KFSM: Life Alert Phone Scam Targets Elderly In River Valley – Gwen Allen said she got a call from a company posing as Life Alert, which is an alert system meant to protect seniors during a home emergency. “I cried the other night because I got so upset with them,” Allen said. She received 20 phone calls in February from the bogus company.

The Register: Calling all cybercrooks: Ready-made phone attack rig for saleCybercrooks are marketing a hardware-based tool for running denial of service attacks on telephone systems. Specialised software allows the tool to perform continuous calls from inserted unlocked SIM-cards and leverages various SIP providers.

Business Insider: Hackers developed a new tool that can flood networks with spam phone callsYou might think that the Instant Up device is perfect for pranks, but it actually has a far more sinister use. Hackers can use TDoS (telephone denial of service) tools to take down crucial systems.

Tulsa World: Call to arms: How best to avoid phone spamSince Feb. 1, “Unavailable,” has phoned our land line 43 times and we’ve ignored all 43 calls. Against his better judgment, my husband decided to answer an unidentified call near 10 p.m. two weeks ago, maybe because there was an actual phone number listed on caller I.D.

FindBiometrics: Biometrics Industry News Roundup: Voice in a Multi-Modal FutureThis week was also continued to celebrate Voice Month in our featured articles section. News-wise we reported on Honeywell’s initiative to bring voice biometrics to the cockpit of airplanes, and Pindrop Security secured $35 million in series B funding.

KATU: McMinnville mom loses nearly $1,000 in fake deputy phone scam“He sounded like a police officer,” insists Tammie Kemp. “He really did.” The caller used the name of a real Yamhill County Sheriff’s deputy. And he knew things like Kemp’s old address and her driver’s license number, so she didn’t doubt what he said next.

ABC 27: $10,000 DUI bailout phone scam alert – Robert Gosnell was stuck in a work meeting Wednesday morning for several hours. During that time, his family thought he was in prison and needed thousands of dollars for bail. “Obviously, I wasn’t in jail at the time,” Gosnell said. However, his aunt in Mechanicsburg was almost fooled.

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