Scam Radar — June 2024

Below are three new scams to keep on your radar, as well as some tips for how to avoid them. Be on the look out for yourself, your family, and your clients! THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK!

Government Phishing

Cybercriminals like to manipulate people into acting on impulse. Anyone can fall for this trick, even government officials. In this month’s scam, a Russian hacking group is targeting members of the Polish government with an enticing phishing email. The email contains a link that claims to provide information about a mysterious person who has been in contact with Polish government authorities.

If you click it, the link redirects you through multiple websites before reaching an archive of .zip files. This archive contains a malicious file that is disguised as a photograph. If you open the file, a distracting image is displayed while the malicious software secretly downloads onto your device. Once installed, the malware can collect your sensitive data and send it back to the hackers.

Tips to Avoid Similar Scams:

  • Avoid clicking on links in emails, especially if the email is not expected!

  • Phishing emails may contain alarming or sensitive topics to try and trick you into clicking on a link. Always be mindful any time an email is encouraging you to take action.

  • If an email seems suspicious, always follow your organization’s reporting policy. An email that is reported quickly can help to protect your organization from a larger phishing attack like this one!

Don’t Get Fooled by Spear Phishing

Cybercriminals are trying to scam you by sending you text messages from an unknown number, claiming to be from your boss. The texts contain a lot of detailed information about your workplace, making them seem legitimate. In reality, the scammer simply researched your organization and manager before messaging you. They will use this research to try to trick you into believing you are actually speaking with your manager. This scam is a type of personalized phishing attack, known as spear phishing.

The scammers send casual messages about your organization to put you at ease before moving to what they really want—money. They tell you that they have a business expense that they urgently need to pay for. Then, they ask you to send them money using a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. If you send it to them, the money will go directly to the cybercriminals. You may then need to speak to your real manager to explain what happened!

Tips to Avoid Similar Scams:

  • Be skeptical if you receive a message from an unknown number, especially if you are being asked to act urgently.

  • Any unexpected financial request should be treated very cautiously. It is highly unlikely that your actual manager would ask for you to send them money using cryptocurrency.

  • If you receive an unusual message, follow your organization’s reporting policy. Others in your organization may be receiving similar messages. By reporting the message quickly, you can help prevent other attacks from being successful.

Be on Patrol for Fake Calls

Cybercriminals have been impersonating U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. The scammers call you and claim that CBP has intercepted drugs or money shipments that are addressed to you. They insist that you must confirm personal details to help them resolve the case. If you refuse to cooperate, the scammers threaten to send police to arrest you.

To seem more credible, the scammers may provide actual CBP employee names and numbers that they find online, as well as fake case and badge numbers. In some cases, there is a recorded message that says to press a number to speak to a “CBP officer” about an intercepted shipment. The real CBP stresses that these calls are complete scams and that the agency never requests money or personal information, such as your Social Security number, over the phone.

Tips to Avoid Similar Scams:

  • The CBP will not call you to request money or financial information. If you receive a call asking you to share personal information, it’s best to hang up and contact the government agency directly at a verified number.

  • This particular phone scam impersonates the CBP, but remember that scammers could call you and impersonate any government entity.

  • Scammers rely on scaring you into making an impulsive decision. If you receive an unexpected phone call urging you to take action, be extra cautious. It could be a scam.

For more information regarding scams, please visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Advice website.

You can also find details about the signs of a scam, how to avoid a scam, and how to report a scam in this article by the FTC — How to Avoid a Scam.

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