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October 23 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2 This week in phone fraud, teenagers hack the CIA and pranksters hack Target’s store intercoms.

On Monday, news broke that a teenager hacked into CIA director John Brennan’s personal email account. The hacker claims to have simply called Verizon, impersonating an employee, to collect personal information on Brennan. He then called AOL, impersonating Brennan himself, claiming to have forgotten his password.

This week, pranksters discovered they could call Target stores and request to be transferred to an extension that allowed them to control the store intercoms. BBC reporter Dave Lee wrote, “Hardly the hack of the century, but a reminder that people will find even the most obscure vulnerabilities and exploit them.”


Evening Standard: Nine arrested over ‘£60 million fraud’ targeting bank customers – The network is alleged to have targeted business banking customers by purporting to be from their bank in order to dupe them into revealing personal information to allow them to gain access to their accounts.

Pindrop Security: Pindrop Security Receives Innovation Award at the 2015 AURP Awards of Excellence – Pindrop is recognized for solving a real-world problem that has a significant impact on businesses and consumers alike.“When we started Pindrop, we were incredibly lucky to have access to Atlanta’s leading entrepreneurs who were closely tied to the university.”

FTC Blog: Fake kidnappers cause genuine loss – The FBI calls this scam virtual kidnapping. Scammers scour the internet and social media, grabbing information about where people live, work, or travel, and names of friends and family. The cons use the details to pick a target and make their calls sound credible.

Federal Trade Commission: Operators of Alleged Tech Support Scam Settle FTC Charges, Will Surrender Money and Property – The operators of an alleged tech support scam agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they tricked consumers into paying millions of dollars for technical support services they did not need and software that was otherwise free.

Express: Sick scammers target Britons with eight phone calls every second – are YOU at risk? – More than six in 10 Britons have received a suspicious call over the past 12 months – with more than four in 10 targeted in the past month alone. Worryingly, the amount of money extracted through phone fraud has doubled in the first half of 2015.

Falkirk Herald: Warning after elderly woman has savings stolen in telephone scam – “The victim was told that in order to protect her savings she must transfer them into a specific account and not to trust any bank staff when she was carrying out the transaction as they were involved in hacking her bank account and were under investigation.

South Florida Business Journal: Peruvian man pleads guilty to defrauding Spanish speakers in international scheme – Cesar Luis Kou Reyna pleaded guilty to charges that he controlled call centers in Peru that falsely told Spanish speakers in the U.S. that they owed debts, according to the U.S. Department of Jusice. The victims were threatened with legal action if they failed to pay.

Money: 5 Phone Calls Scammers Love to Make – An analysis of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission shows that phone calls are the most common way scammers contact consumers. It’s important to know the signs someone is calling with the intention to steal from you.

The Times of India: Rise of the call centre criminals – Age: 28. Educational Qualification: Graduate. ‘Occupation: Call centre employee. This is the typical profile of a new-age cyber criminal operating from the city. Though in ‘business’ for a few years, the headcount of these fraudsters have suddenly gone up.

Wisconsin State Journal: Madison graduate student loses thousands in phone scam – Madison police on Monday said a 30-year-old male graduate student last week lost more than $3,000 in a phone scam involving supposedly incorrect tax forms. The student fell for a pitch by someone posing as a member of a federal law enforcement agency.

PC World: Is it still possible to do phone phreaking? Yes, with Android on LTE – With LTE, voice and data go over Internet. ‘That opens up an interesting avenue for attack. For example, if a victim can be tricked into downloading a malicious Android application, it could, for initiate a video call over the data channel.

Wired: Teen Who Hacked CIA Director’s Email Tells How He Did It – “[W]e told them we work for Verizon and we have a customer on scheduled callback,” he told WIRED. The caller told Verizon that he was unable to access Verizon’s customer database on his own because “our tools were down.”

Forbes: As TIGTA Continues To Warn On IRS Scams, New Treasury Scams Surface – Scammers are changing tactics and making calls purporting to be directly from the U.S. Treasury. In one version, scammers advise that an individual has been awarded a grant and the individual needs to provide a sum of money to “release” the funds.

WGNO: Don’t fall for this phone scam – hear the hoax on tape – Lynda Richard says she initially believed the caller was from the IRS. But as she grew suspicious, she decided to put the caller on her home speaker phone, and then she recorded the conversation on her cell phone.

BBC News: Target stores attacked by pornographic pranksters – Non-Target team members are attempting to access the intercom system by calling stores and requesting to be connected to line [xxxx].”If connected, callers have control of the intercom until they hang up.

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