Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cyber Criminals Pursuing Alarming New Fraud: Department of Justice Supposedly Investigating Average Citizens

--Emails allegedly from U.S. Department of Justice Spreading Stress and Anxiety--Big Time

Old joke. Question: What do you have when a con man is buried up to his neck in sand? Answer: Not enough sand.

For a reason?

When this scam comes at you, courtesy of the cyber criminals, watch out. It is one of the most vicious con games around. Yes, money does take the sting out of being poor. But, to earn it this way? Far submerged below contempt. Makes you think: Some people are alive only because it's illegal to shoot them.

This one has to do with the fraudulent email you could receive from a cyber criminal at any time informing you that you--or your company--are being investigated by the Department of Justice due to a complaint filed by some (unnamed) party. Could involve the IRS, SSA or any number of other government agencies. It's every bit as bad as you might think, and, yes, they are out to "get" you.

All things being equal, all things are never equal. Considering their victims to be as dumb as an ox eating grass,, the cyber criminal's thinking is simple: If your potential victims think virgin wool comes from ugly sheep, feed that perception.

Confusion? Sure. By design. If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. The leak in the roof is never in the same location as the drip

These emails, seemingly legitimate, would contain your name and several other pieces of personal information. The cyber criminal's thrust is up front, blunt. He follows Anthony's Law of Force: Don't force it; use a large hammer. If you hit something hard enough it will fall over.

Goal of the cyber criminals is to gain access to the "vitals" of your personal information--the Mother Lode--PIN numbers and passwords. Failing that, SS numbers, bank account and debit / credit card numbers would be acceptable too. They start out by going for the jugular, and, if they fall short, settle for the gizzard.
One way or the other, if you dance with a rattlesnake you ill get bitten every time.

The complaint included with the email is always in the form of an attachment which, once opened, contains virus software which will steal your vital personal data. (To err is human, but to really screw things up requires a computer.) This virus has a little "kicker" to it. It comes gift-wrapped in a screensaver file. This way most anti-virus programs cannot detect its malicious intent. Once downloaded by you, the virus is designed to monitor username and password logins, and record the activity. A "gotcha" game.

For the victim it's always darkest just before the lights go out. For the cyber criminal it's just a game--like playing poker and laying a palm across his hole card.

It has often been said that the first thing to know about a survival situation is to not get into a survival situation. (Yes, a prefrontal lobotomy would solve a lot of problems.) If you receive such an email, touch nothing, click nothing. Instead, fire off a complaint to:

Remember, it's stuffy inside a fortune cookie. Don't believe everything you think.

This all leads up to finality by way of another old con man joke. Question: How do you keep a con man from drowning? Answer: Shoot him.

Illegal, of course, as stated earlier--therefore discouraged--but the urge would be strong.


Terry said...

This one's a real eye popper, Jack.

Gene Kranik said...

Oh yes, I can attest to this. I know a guy who got hit this way. It was supposed to be the IRS who was after him. He contacted IRS on his own and they said they never heard of whatever this was that was going on. They told him to forward all information to a government agency, and he never heard any more about it.

Swubird said...

Con Man:

It's pretty scary. I used to get e-mails all the time from the so-called IRS asking me about a potential refund. I never paid any attention to them.

Great post.

Happy trails.

enjoytheworld said...

I was facing lots of problems as my computer was affected by virus. SO, I've reinstalled my OS. That's an excellent post. Thanks.

Earl T. Clydson said...

Alarming is right. Despite the fact that the legitimacy of something like this transmitted by email should be an up front question in your mind, the hammer aspects of it are indeed menacing. I know if I got something like this I would be shaky for a few moments until I resoned out that this had to be a fraud because of the way it was communicated to me.

Jack Payne said...

Thanks, Terry.

Gene, the IRS is often used as the "lure".

Jack Payne said...

IRS (supposed) refunds were another popular lure among con men, Swu. Glad you didn't bite.

Jack Payne said...

Thanks, Enjoy.

These things are designed to shake you up like a milk shake in a fast blender, Earl. Glad you reasoned out what should be the obvious: if it comes to you via email, put no credence in it whatsoever.

Terry said...

I like this one, it's stuffy inside a fortune cookie. Again I don't know what that means, but I like it.

Harry said...

I favor the one just following fortune cookie. Don't believe everything you think. Now that has to have some profound deep meaning, but I must admit I haven't figured it out.

Jose said...

excelent post...i really loved it :)

Warren M said...

My wife actually got one of these messages in her email box once while I was away on a business trip. I remember all the frantic phone calls. I told her to not sweat, just print everything out and wait till I got home. After I got home and checked it out I discovered it was a phony. It eventually went into the trash can. These can really scare you all right.

Warmer said...

I heard of this sort of thing happening, but never believed it...until now, I guess.

Ortiz said...

You can't tell until you come in off the grass which way the wind blows.

Jack Payne said...

Thanks, Jose. And, Terry and Harry (I guess).

It happened while you were away from home,Warren? Glad you were able to take care of it. These things are designed to scare the daylights out of you.

JakeTheSnake said...

My nomination for phrase of the month is The first thing to know about a survival situation is to not get into a survival situation.

Jack Payne said...

Glad you believe it now, Warmer.

Sorry, Ortiz, but I don't begin to understand your statement. Something about grass and blowing winds? I'm baffled.

Bern said...

I got in late this time, Jack. But I just had to stop by and commend you on another excellent post.

Robin Easton said...

Wow this is a scary one. Very much like the BANK ones I've had. They come with the same letter head/email look as Bank of America and other banks, which I can't remember. I've had at least 3 of these lately saying there was a problem with my account and all funds would be held (locked down) unless I contacted this link XXXXX and gave my pin, etc., etc.

In all honesty, and I hate to admit this, my first reaction was "Oh No! I won't have the money for this bill or that or my checks will bounce if they lock down the money."

Then a voice in my head said, "Hooooold on a minute here, Robin" Now this is the really hard part to admit. I looked at the bank name, and it said Bank of America, which I did bank with awhile ago but don't anymore. Then I thought, "WAIT!!! I don't even bank with them. They have NO money of mine. This is a very very clever scam."

Honestly Jack? I was angry. I blocked them from sending any more mail. And realized that my anger was healthy. Then after I deleted it I thought I should have forwarded it to BOFA or done something with it. Maybe you know what to do with them.

Boy this is really good you let people know about all this crap. Because in one sense these people are very smart. In fact you wonder why they don't use that same cunning and "intelligence" for something honestly creative.

Jack Payne said...

They are simply shooting for instant panic, Robin. And, with something as jarring as this, they usually get it.

Brain said...

Then a voice in my head said, "Hooooold on a minute here, Robin" Now this is the really hard part to admit. I looked at the bank name, and it said Bank of America, which I did bank with awhile ago but don't anymore. Then I thought, "WAIT!!! I don't even bank with them. They have NO money of mine. This is a very very clever scam."