News roundup 5/8: Wire transfer phishing schemes up, is Facebook winning the scambot battle? and more
By Sarah Beldo /
8 May 2017
British travel scams up 19%
When you’re booking last-minute travel deals, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush to secure a special price in a picture-perfect locale. But a request to pay by bank transfers or cash should always set off “scam” alarm bells – and more UK travelers are finding this out the hard way.
Stats from Action Fraud (the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting center) show that £7.2 million was lost in 5,826 travel-related scams in 2016. That’s a 19% year-over-year rise, with scams involving plane tickets, online bookings for accommodations, and timeshare sales most popular. Sports events and religious festivals are also common targets.
In these scams, fraudsters may set up a fake travel website, post fake listings on a reputable site, or even hack into the website of a real travel company.
USA Today irked about fake accounts
Facebook says it’s been cracking down on spambots, but is social network doing enough? USA Today certainly doesn’t think so. The publication’s parent company, Gannett, has asked the FBI to investigate Facebook fake accounts after realizing that more than half of the people who liked USA Today’s page were…not really people.
A recent fake account purge by Facebook slashed more than a third of USA Today’s followers, but the publication claims it is still picking up more than 1,000 a day – and the constant ups and downs of its follower count is damaging its reputation (and probably its growth projections and relationship with advertisers).
What are the fake accounts doing? Facebook thinks they’re part of a coordinated operation in which bots attempt to look like real people, to make real connections – only to spam and scam them later.
FBI warns of wire transfer phishing schemes
Speaking of the FBI…and wire transfers…the latest scam on the rise involves fraudsters posing as an executive or supplier, and requesting money via email. Scammers tried to steal $5.3 billion via these “business email compromise” schemes between October 2013 and December 2016, the FBI says.
That’s a huge jump from the Oct 2013-May 2016 figures of $3.1 billion, with cases doubling in the last seven months of the year. About one out of four victims in the U.S. actually wires money to a fraudster, according to the FBI. And these same tactics are being employed to get employees to give up non-monetary information – like tax data – that can be used to commit identity theft. So, watch that work inbox!