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March 18 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2 This week in phone fraud, NPR accidently hijacks listeners’ Amazon Echoes and IRS warns of new phone scam.

This week, Mashable reported that NPR accidently hacked listener’s Echoes with a radio broadcast, proving the devices can be ‘hijacked’ by a speaker outside the home. NPR listeners reported the news story prompted Alexa to reset thermostats, play news summaries, and more. As the Echo begins to offer more features like paying for music and pizza, larger security concerns are beginning to arise.

According to Forbes, the IRS is warning consumers about a new variation on the IRS phone scam. Consumers are reporting that scammers are calling, saying they need to verify some information to process your return. Those details generally lead to identity theft.


FTC Blog: Avoiding imposter scams – Maria got a phone call one day. The caller, who claimed to be an attorney, told Maria there was a court order against her and that she had to pay hundreds of dollars to settle an old debt. If she didn’t pay, there would be dire consequences.

New York Post: ‘Prophet’ harassing NYers with robocalls demanding cash: suit – Self-proclaimed “prophet” Yakim Manasseh Jordan, 25 — who lives a “lavish lifestyle” with multi-million dollar homes and luxury cars — bombards personal phone lines across the country with up to six automated calls a day, according to the class action lawsuit.

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Georgia Department of Revenue gets ‘spoofed’ – The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) reported its phone lines have been subject to Caller ID spoofing. Spoofing occurs when the Caller ID of the caller appears to be coming from a valid number. DOR was first made aware of the scam on March 10.

On the Wire: On the Wire Podcast: David Dewey – In this episode of the podcast, Dennis Fisher talks with Dewey about the research, how the card issuers have addressed the problems he found, and what can be done to further secure mobile payment systems.

On the Wire: IRS Phone Scammers Shift Tactics – The variety of IRS tax scams is continuing to increase, and the agency is now telling consumers to be wary of a recent shift in scammers’ tactics. The latest version involves scammers calling to “verify” details of tax returns and harvesting valuable personal information.

BBC: Pensioner loses £20,000 in phone scam – The woman was contacted by someone claiming to be from the Visa Fraud Unit over suspicious account activity. She was asked to transfer funds to another account to “protect” them but when she did so the money was taken and the scam completed.

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