This article suggests that there is more of a deficit than I might have expected in awareness of online safety issues.
IC3, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center is reporting an uptick in scammers faking US Goverment websites.
I’m pointing it out here mostly as a reminder that these criminals are everywhere, and come up with really surprising approaches to separate Americans from their hard earned dollars.
I’m told that some people have received emails stating that their PennsWoods accounts were reported for fraud, and asking them to click a link.
I do NOT send emails telling people they’ve been reported for fraud.
If you’ve received such an email and logged into such a page, please kindly go to the FAQ located in the upper left of the classifieds. Changing your password is FAQ #3.
Folks, I’m getting more and more reports of scammers contacting people by text message every day. Please be aware that it happens regularly. I don’t have any rules against publishing phone numbers in ads. But if you publish a cell phone number, be aware that anyone in the world can contact you for practically free, and they may or may not be who they say they are.
Texting is a fast and convenient way to exchange information, but use caution.
I’ve had several people report to me that they’ve received text messages from “PennsWoods” requiring them to send their username and password to address one issue or another.
Folks, I do NOT need your password. It offends me when I receive an email asking for assistance, and including their password in the email. Don’t give your password to me. Don’t give it to your neighbor, don’t give it to anyone.
I don’t ask for passwords, and I’m not going to contact you via text unless we arrange something ahead of time. If someone contacts you via text out of the blue, it isn’t me, and it isn’t any representative of PennsWoods.
Bruce Schneier is a widely recognized expert on security, with a specific emphasis on computer security. He wrote an essay on scams a bit over a decade ago. While things have changed a lot since then, it is still an interesting read from the perspective of the scammer attacking the human behind the keyboard with ideas, rather than trying to write a virus to infect the computer.
A much more recent (June 2012) blog posting from Mr. Schneier describes why some scams seem so far fetched. In a nutshell, it seems to be an attempt to select only the most susceptible victims. Think what you like, but all of us go through difficult times. When our emotions are torn and we wake up in the morning already weary from the battle, it can be much more challenging to pick out a scam.
Mr. Schneier has written extensively about scams, and security trade offs. You can read more of his commentary on scams here:
This evening I’ve gotten three messages asking me about text messages that were sent. Supposedly they were sent by me claiming that there was a report that their ad was a scam. There is a link to log in and verify that the ad is not a scam.
The text message is a scam! I do not currently use text messages within the PW Classifieds. I don’t send out warnings about reported ads.
I can only assume that if you’ve tried to log in to the link provided, you’re username and password are compromised, and some foreign crook will be using your account to place scam ads.
If you’ve had this happen to you, and you tried to log in to the link provided, please change your password. The option to do so is in the FAQ, question #3.
Thanks for being on guard, and a special thanks to those who sent me word that they received these text messages!
I’ve gotten quite a few reports lately that scammers have been texting cell phone numbers in PennsWoods ads. I would imagine that they are using blocks of texting numbers from free phone apps, or something along those lines. The texts usually direct a person to communicate with an email address, and there is typically an excuse why phone conversations are not possible.
I just wanted to remind everyone that if you are contacted via text message, there is no guarantee that the person actually has a PennsWoods account, and tracing a mix of text and emails is something that law enforcement are going to have trouble with.
If you receive a text message with a really good offer on something, meet in person or at least have a phone conversation. This doesn’t give 100% certainty, but not being able to do this should give you reason to pause.
Also never accept excess payment and return it to the sender. It is a very common scam to send a larger check / money order than is needed, and ask for the balance to be returned via your own check. By the time the check / money order sent to you bounces (possibly months later), your check has been cashed and the money is long gone.
I don’t think I can ever say this enough. People claiming to be traveling outside the country is a red flag indicating a scammer.
Really? These “people” are on an extended vacation and have nothing better to do than sell your car?
Lately the scammers are using an email format of a name, two digits, and @msn.com. That doesn’t mean that someone using a different style email address is safe, and probably after they read this they’ll switch email formats. But if you’ve received email lately from a format like this, and it smells fishy, toss their emails in the trash.
Happy Easter everyone! I hope you’ve had a grand time this weekend! As a friend and former school mate just texted to me, ‘He is risen!’. What a wonderful launch into the spring season.
In less happy news, there has been some sort of scam floating around centered on a website with the name ‘wazzub’ in it. I have no idea how the scam works, but I know there is no such thing as free money. The piper always gets paid. Please don’t get burned.