extremely sophisticated scamming software (1 Viewer)

vba_php

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I was almost a victim of identity theft today. I must have been in a delirious state cuz normally I would have never allowed anyone calling me on the phone to access my machine through a remote session. But here's what happened:

I got an automated call saying that I was charged $299 for a renewal subscription that I had bought from Geek Squad at Best Buy 3 years ago. The message said to call the number back if I wanted to cancel the subscription and get a refund. So for whatever stupid reason (probably cuz I thought it was possible that geek squad signed me up for something I did not ask for years ago when I bought something else from them), I called back and talked to an agent and he told me to go to "cancelmysubscription.website". After a while of back and forth meaningless conversation, he told me that he needed to connect to my laptop via a remote teamViewer session to check and see if my issues had been fixed (or something like that, I don't remember at this point), and again for some stupid reason I told him that it would be fine as long as it didn't take too long.

What I saw go on when he connected gave me the impression that his software was way beyond my comprehension. The first thing I saw was a DOS prompt appear, him type in a few unrecognizable strings in the command line, and then for like 30 seconds strait I saw a flurry of "-", "_" and "|" symbols scroll down the DOS screen in the form of graphics which almost at times looked like a huge directory tree with hundreds of subdirectories. When I saw that I thought I might just stop the process so I told him it was taking too long and he responded with:

"please sir, just give me some minutes, please follow the instructions I'm going to give you exactly, otherwise my life could be in danger. My manager could also take my job. For my sake, please comply with my requests.

When this process ended, the task manager's "processes" tab appeared and I saw the huge line graph in green and he said "we are now running a diagnostic check on your machine. Please be patient". Everything ended when he told me he needed my banking info to issue the refund. He was requesting the debit card #, first name, last name, DOB, phone number, email address and full physical address.

I can only guess his software was scanning my entire system for any sensitive information. I consider myself extremely stupid and lucky at the same time, as just last night I transferred literally everything off of the machine he got access to, to an external hard drive, and then on to my brand new machine. The only things left on the machine he got access to were all of my 3rd party applications and browser software. And my new machine does not have an ethernet port on it, so I'm forced to use my phone's hotspot as a router for the time being until I get an ethernet-usb adaptor. And I do not have upper-level features on my phone where I can be on a hotspot and on a phone call at the same time.

I can't believe I got into this whole thing, considering the fact that he was an Indian and said he was calling from Silicon Valley out in CA. When he first called to, the first thing he asked for was my email to verify my Geek Squad account. So because he got that from me and that email is linked to so many financial transactions of mine, past and present, I ended up closing all of my bank accounts and creating brand new ones and getting new credit cards issued with all my providers.

I have no idea how much information a scammer has to obtain in order to assume an identity, but I would assume they can't steal an identity without a social security number.

I've talked to many scammers over the last 20 or so years, but most of them have been recently cuz I'm in the dating scene. I've had prolly 10 different women over the past 4 months ask me for money for various reasons, asking me to send it thru various channels for various reasons. And of course, every one of these women were incredibly gorgeous, and most of them were either living in foreign countries or were originally from a foreign country and now living here in the USA. This "romance scam" has been listed on the department of state's website for years now I understand: https://www.ag.state.mn.us/consumer/Publications/OnlineDatingRomanceScams.asp

The thing I don't really understand about the women who have attempted to do this to me is why in the hell they would even claim to like me! I've never been that good looking and I consider myself lucky to have dated good looking girls in the past. Many of them have said to me "you're a very good looking man", which of course is BS. As a member of eHarmony, I've gotten countless emails from the security and support team telling me that a match of mine has been terminated. It kinda makes me wonder why women of this nature target someone like me instead of using their beauty to go after the rich businessmen of the world. So many of them really do pay high dollar amounts for escorts, models and just general evenings of affection from a beautiful girl.

So that's the story. Anybody experienced something like this, or even something close?
 

The_Doc_Man

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Personally, no. However, a friend of the family who is gay went on a gay dating site and suddenly got giddy about his new "friend." They were planning to get together but the new friend was in southern California and couldn't travel on short notice. To make the long story short, when "K" told us about his new friend and the gifts he was giving via a remote pay app, a couple of alarm bells went off. I did some on-line research and found that while the story was (barely) plausible, there was no such place as had been listed the home city of "C." The ZIP code wasn't quite right. A couple of other things didn't work out quite right either, because with my military background, some of the things the guy was telling "K" were things that a person with a security clearance would not normally discuss.

The trick was that most of the scammer's story was something you could look up online. The "gifts" were essentially music cards you could use to buy things from Amazon if you redeemed them in a specific way. So our friend "K" was being milked for pre-paid credit cards, in essence.
 

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So our friend "K" was being milked for pre-paid credit cards, in essence.
richard,

one of the girls i mentioned in my post claimed to be from illinois but was out of the country in instanbul turkey on business (she was self-employed as an interior designer apparently). I had been talking with her for a short while thru email when she finally said "honey, I want to keep in touch with you thru text messaging but i cannot text internationally with my current plan. kindly send a $200 iTunes card and I will give you a delivery address to send it to". I've had a few phone conversations with FBI agents in the Chicago field office about the tricks of the trade, and they told me on my first call that they literally get hundreds of calls a day from men who fall victim to, or are just pre-reporting cases of women doing the same thing. The other thing they told me is that gifts cards of every kind and other cards called "steam cards" are all widely used in the underground fraud market. Apparently the fraudster gets the victim to buy the cards, they ask the victim for the codes on the back of the cards, and somehow that number is used in a series of underground economic channels in such a way that enables the fraudster to make unauthorized purchases of various kinds. The way the agent described it to me sounded a little like the way the dark web works and the process of onion routing with the TOR browser.

The other thing I have done, and am currently still doing, is emailing back and forth with a girl from a foreign country that I met through the eHarmony website. We've been doing it for about 4 months now and I have literally 600 or more email messages in her label in my gmail account (just ported over from my old account that was compromised by this guy yesterday) about all subjects that are possible to talk about. At this point I pretty much know every detail about all aspects of her life. My friends are still not convinced, even after 4 months of getting to know each other, that she is real in her intentions or that her photos are even real. I've done as much research on this woman as I possible can, including calling the FBI about the stories she's told me, her lack of an accent when speaking to her on the phone, her constant usage of the words "honey", "my dear" and "my darling" in email messages, and many other things. It doesn't bother me too much, however again the department of state in the USA has many warnings issued on their website about stuff like this (e.g. - https://dz.usembassy.gov/u-s-citize...u-s-citizens/internet-romance-marriage-fraud/). There were a few things the FBI could not answer for regarding her stories, and even a friend of mine who is a highly respected University scholar and professor here in Iowa City at the University of Iowa that I ride the bus home with on 2 nights a week asked me once what this girl's middle name was. He's from Poland and he has quite a bit of knowledge about foreign countries in his area of the world. When I told him her middle name, he said "that's exactly right", and he told me how she got the first part of the name, which comes from her father's first name, and the last part of the name which literally translates to "daughter of". So that is just 1 of many points that indicates her legitimacy. 1 point though she's got going against her was the fact that out of the 12 photos she has sent me of herself, 1 of them was found on an international pornography website when I searched for their appearance on the internet using the reverse lookup technology on this site: https://www.tineye.com/. I even told her thru a very long email message everything that I had done to research her stories and identity on the internet. When I told her about the porn website and her photo being found there, she just responded with "there's not much I can do about it Adam cuz there's some corruption in my country, but I will try to see what the local police have to say". Regardless of what she has said and has not said though, at this point I consider her more of a pen pal than anything, and if it did ever develop beyond a friendship and I was given the opportunity to meet her in person, I sure as hell wouldn't allow her to take anything from me and trap me into marrying her for the purpose of her gaining permanent US citizenship. That is apparently widespread too: https://www.nbcwashington.com/inves...en-Claimed-Abuse-to-Stay-in-US-473983993.html

My friend Brandon from high school had that happen to him years ago whereby a girl, who happened to be drop dead gorgeous, got married to him and she was from South Korea. They had a kid together and after about a year she filed for divorce claiming that for the entire year he had abused her and her son physically and emotionally. After a long court battle though, she was unsuccesful in her attempt to get custody of their son and extract money from him, however she did get one thing she wanted and that was the permanent citizenship.

The FBI agent told me many times that it doesn't matter how long I've been talking to this girl thru email, eventually she will ask for money. So I told them if it ever gets to that extreme I would consider filing a criminal complaint on their website. But as of now nothing has happened and I don't expect it to.
 

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Hardly sophisticated. :confused:
oh really? Why don't you explain it to me Gasman. I had never seen anything like it before, although I'm quite aware that remote sharing of computer screens have been around forever. What I was referring to was the fact that the agent told me he was using a technology called "secure banking transaction processing", or something like that. I can't remember exactly what it was called but I know it had an acronym of 3 letters and the first 2 words were "secure banking" and he told me it was a brand new technology that had just been developed, possibly in silicon valley? He told me that they were using it cuz their customers were mostly unwilling to give out their banking information over the phone. well of course they are! :rolleyes:
 

Gasman

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When I said 'Hardly sophisicated' I was referring to you allowing a stranger to run software on your computer.?

I know of someone who was told by their bank that their account had been compromised and to transfer funds enough to last them a week to an account that they had set up for them whilst they investigated, to which this person transferred quite a large sum.

The account he transferred the money to was not even the same bank????

Would you call that sophisicated?

Luckily for you, you have just bought a new computer that would not have too much on it.?

If that was me, I'd be reinstalling windows from scratch and starting all over again, or use the Factory Install option if that is available, but then again I am not a sofware engineer and probably teaching my granny to suck eggs here?
 

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The account he transferred the money to was not even the same bank????

Would you call that sophisicated?
that's just a high level of ignorance of ur friend's part. although like I should be talking after what I allowed!
Luckily for you, you have just bought a new computer that would not have too much on it.?
NO, like I said, my new computer DID have everything from my old computer on it, however it was unable to be connected to the internet whilst I was on the phone with this agent, thus he was unable to obtain any connected info associated with my phone number like my hotspot routing ip address.
If that was me, I'd be reinstalling windows from scratch and starting all over again, or use the Factory Install option if that is available
my REAL computer technician told me for the last 40 years in business he's had countless number of customers come in to the shop and tell him the same type of stories. He also said that over the last 5 years or so, the number of occurrances of people coming in and complaining is at about 5-10 every week. That seems a bit high, but he's got his personal response to the scammers down to a science, as he described to me how he handles their phone calls.

I DO plan on reinstalling windows, as that's what my tech told me is my only option to make sure all of the compromising software that they put on it is gone. But seeing that the compromised computer had nothing on it anyway and that's I'm no longer using it, I might just trash it. Although I might keep it around for compatibility testing when working with clients. That seems to make a lot of sense. I found it funny too, that after I cut off my communication with this fake agent in silicon valley, I received 3 more calls from the same number he originally called me on, all over the course of the subsequent 2 hours.
 
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Steve R.

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Adam: Very interesting post.

By coincidence, my (my more or less "private" email address) somehow escaped into the wild. I started to get junk mail. So I spent, last night learning how to block those spam emails. Still scratching my head on how that email address "escaped". I suspect, that the contact list of a person who has it was hacked.

More to the point of your post. For a while, I was getting a message that this person had $20 for me as a refund(?). From what (never stated), I do not know. So I never responded. Whether a scam or not, I don't know. Didn't have the look and feel of one of those Nigerian scams.

More interesting and more in line with your post. My wife had a co-worker who was doing some online dating. The person who this co-worker met (online), claimed to be in London and claimed to be working for a shipping company. He continuously claimed he wanted to come to the US (that he even had the tickets), but he had "problems". My wife's coworker sent him $$$ to help him out. An obvious scam. My wife tried to tell her that she was being scammed, but it seemed to have fallen on death ears. Anyway, my wife is now retired so we don't know how it ended.

But wait, there is more! My wife, at the gym, met another woman and they got to talking. Her "boyfriend" claimed to be in either Australia or New Zealand and worked for a shipping company. Like this other guy, he wanted to come to the US, had tickets, but had work "problems". This woman sent him money. Since, my wife only casually met this woman by chance, we don't know how that one ended either. But the coincidences of meeting two woman who were in the process of getting scammed with the same story line seems pretty remarkable. Especially where we live in an isolated small rural community.

Adam: Very interesting post and one that we can learn from. Thanks for sharing.
 

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My wife, at the gym, met another woman and they got to talking. Her "boyfriend" claimed to be in either Australia or New Zealand and worked for a shipping company. Like this other guy, he wanted to come to the US, had tickets, but had work "problems". This woman sent him money.
it goes both ways as ur post obviously points out steve. it's not just beautiful women scamming american men but foreign men doing it to american women too. there's a few more things about what I went through that I forgot to tell u guys...

> these guys DID manage to get money out of me. Immediately when I called them back for the subscription cancellation, their caller ID automatically captured my phone number. so I assume right at that point is when they took the credit balance out of my us cellular cell phone account. I had $13 of credit on the account for the purpose of calling London and Moscow to talk to clients if need be. and when I tried to call Moscow this morning for a follow up, the system told me I did not have enough credit to make the call. so that was it! I have since changed my phone number and all of my email accounts and login credentials for all of my online accounts, but a little damage was still done.

> during this time I was on the phone with this scamming company, I talked to 4 different fake agents as one after the other was transferring me to the next and the given reason was that the agent currently talking to me couldn't connect to my machine cuz the internet was slow. The last agent was a team leader of somekind and he asked me what ISP I had as a provider and claimed that they weren't doing a good job cuz he couldn't connect remotely. And this team lead actually made a 3 way call to his manager and me, so I was able to hear what he was saying to the manager. He said "Max, I have Adam on the line and his ISP's acting too slowly for us to connect remotely. We are trying our best. Please know that this is not my fault. What this lead me to believe was that these poor agents from India really don't know who they're working for! After examining all the evidence of this, I truly believe that the scamming firms are run by highly skilled technical people who occupy the management positions and these ignorant workers (possibly looking for work or unemployed) accept a job with their firm and are only given a process and "steps" that customers must go through in order to fullfill their requirements and receive the promised product. They are prolly even given the techology to work with as well, without even knowing what it is doing. I would guess they *are* being paid to do these low level jobs, but since it is a scam operation, I'm not at all surprised that one of the agents begged me to comply with his process or his life could be in danger. If I was a scammer and I was running a company that I know didn't have a chance of making a lot of money but I had to pay people to do the work, I certainly wouldn't want to end up in the red after handing out mandatory paychecks!
 

The_Doc_Man

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The software call for "your subscription will be auto-renewed unless you call and cancel" sounds familiar. I get that call quite a lot. They are ACTUALLY engaged in what is called "social engineering" - playing you for being a good person who genuinely wants to help others because they get the cues that you are a "nice guy."

When I was with the Navy, we got yearly refreshers (on-line training type) regarding all sorts of ways that folks get into your head, your account, your machine, etc. If you get something out of the blue, odds are it is a scam, even if the bait IS beautiful. Just remember, phishing is just another type of trolling with bait. But there is ALWAYS a hook that will get you if you open your big mouth to take a bite.
 

moke123

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I responded to this thread last night but it isn't showing for some reason.

The jist of my post was that your fooling yourself if you think your not already subject to ID theft. Its just really a matter of it being your turn.

Social security numbers are relatively easy to come by. It just depends what resources you have. I've been in the "Information" game for 38 years. In 20 mins I could tell you more about yourselves than your spouse could.

No matter how secure you think your data is, that security is subject to the stupidity of the person possessing it. I once went into a bank to ask an innocuous question about a type of an account our subject had. I walked out with a printout of the subjects records. I didnt even ask for them.

If you ever see a $1.00 charge on your credit card by Apple, and you didnt do anything Apple, its a sure sign the account has been compromised. When you open an itunes account you have to enter a credit card. Apple then makes a $1.00 charge and then they reverse it to check that the card is valid. Thiefs just open an ITunes account and then they know if the cards is valid or not. Then they start shopping untill you cancel the card or it hits your limit. When this happened to me I contacted one of the websites where an order was placed. They gave me the address where the order was being shipped to. I ran the address which was in florida, a tiny little nothing shack. The address had 380 people associated with it all from a 10 square mile area near Boston. Normally a private house would be associated with the last 4 or 5 owners. I was able to determine the data came from a hack of a healthcare companies underwriting records. I had no relationship to the company but my employer gave them everyones info as part of a bid process. So much for having control over your private info.

Then there's the data that was breached years ago thats still out in the wild. One particular scam is the sextorion email. They send you an email with the subject line "Your password is {insert an old password here}" It gets your attention because you recognize it to be an old password you have used. They then tell you that they hacked your camera and address book when you were on a porn site and if you dont send them bitcoins they will send the compromising video they took to everyone you know. This scam makes the rounds every couple years. I have recieved it a few times and because of the email address used and the password I was able to determine it was from a hack of Adobes website 8-10 years ago.

Social media was the final nail in the coffin as far as privacy issues go.
 

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thanks for the info guys. always nice to hear i'm not the only one! here's a bit more on the legality of obtaining banking info of a stranger by asking for it:

> my tech in cedar rapids told me that many years ago a federal judge took on a case whereby someone sued a company that scammed her and got her banking info by simply asking for it over the phone. they stole the money and she took them to court trying to get her money back. the judge ruled in favor of the scammer declaring that a "meeting of the minds" took place between the women and the company's agent and therefore it is deemed as a legal financial transaction. and according to my tech, that case set a permanent precendent that still holds true today and has never been reversed.
 

Gasman

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In the UK, they were planning on making banks refund monies scammed by issues like these.?

In the UK we have had incidents of people giving out the One Time Passcodes (OTP) to scammers to authorise them to transfer funds. So despite security measures being in place to prevent such fraud, these are easily overome by gullible customers just giving them to all and sundry.:banghead::banghead::banghead:

My view was, 'If you know you will get you money back from the bank if you get scammed', why bother being vigilant? In fact I will scam you, you get refunded and we will split the proceeds?:cool: Human nature being what it is, I could see that happening immediately, if these ideas went ahead.
Also who pays for all this?, the other customers who have more than one brain cell.?

Sorry vba_php, the best I can give you in all of this is having the 'cojones' for admitting all this in the first place. Most people would have kept this quiet.?;) or is this just perhaps sohisticated trolling.?

If not, then unfortunately, I think most of your audience here would be much wiser, so the admission might have been wasted on this site.?

That said, if it makes one person think again, then it will have been worth it.

When my said issue occurred, an email went out to all possible parties about the scam.
My first thought was 'That person should not be in charge of any funds'?, but it takes all sorts.
 

vba_php

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or is this just perhaps sohisticated trolling.?
i hope to god you don't think that. after all, my identity was revealed a long time ago by isladogs so everybody that's been here for years knows who I am.
If not, then unfortunately, I think most of your audience here would be much wiser, so the admission might have been wasted on this site.?
i would seriously doubt anyone that answers questions here (or posts them for that matter) would do something as stupid as what I did. it must have been a case of me working too hard or not getting enuf sleep and totally not realizing the obvious.
When my said issue occurred, an email went out to all possible parties about the scam.
emails and text messages have already been disbatched to everybody that was in my contact list, which was quite a few people, personal and professional alike.
Sorry vba_php
the name is ADAM. ;)
 

The_Doc_Man

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Actually, I got one of those "sextortion" e-mails a while back. They claimed to have videos of me engaged in a form of autoeroticism in front of a porn site. Since I don't have a camera on ANY of my computers, I didn't even need to read the details. They sent me a video on my cell phone a month later, but it was so bad in quality you couldn't tell WHO it was, and it wasn't anyone I knew.

If they realize how old I was, they would probably realize I might be proud to claim that "things" were still working well enough for that claim to be true.
 

ColinEssex

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It's interesting.

So what does anybody think is the answer to these scams? Or rather, what particular things trigger the scammers?

Could it be online banking, dating sites or something else?

I don't have online banking, I get money from an ATM and I get a statement printout every week to check nothing unusual has happened to our bank account, I prefer traditional methods of banking, a cash allowance per week etc.

Dating sites always seem dodgy, you can't trust these foreigners.

Col
 

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So what does anybody think is the answer to these scams? Or rather, what particular things trigger the scammers?
there are none. I once talked to the attorney general of the united states about automated calls i was getting regarding paying back / consolidating my student loans payments. I was getting about 2-5 calls a day. and at the time i started getting those calls (and ever since then), my loans have not existed in any database system run by the us government student loan org's or any of their affiliates. the attorney general told me it's impossible to stop them for 2 reasons:

1) as soon as they shut one down, another one pops up again and they don't have the manpower to spend 24/7 chasing them down.
2) they buy a "one time use" allowance for phone numbers that they use to call from, and they buy them from many different organizations in the country and usually don't purchase the same number again. that's why most of the time you call them back, the number is disconnected.

she told me the best thing I can do is block the spam numbers one by one and eventually the number of spam calls I get per week will drop cuz the spammers can only cycle thru so many numbers.
Dating sites always seem dodgy
I was also on eharmony 12 years ago and I talked to plenty of legitimate women but only went on 1 date with a girl from a nearby town. and I don't think back I got 1 email about a match termination notice in the 3 months I had the subscription. As the world's population increases, so will the number of scams. and I'm sure they will become much more sophisticated in terms of how they exploit your vulnerabilities, as well as the software they use in the process, which was certainly the case for me.
 

ColinEssex

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Ever since the 1990's when computers were becoming more popular, and being a programmer, I thought it was easy to hack into things. I never use our current account to do anything online.

I always use a credit card, in the UK, you are protected if anything untoward happens. eBay, PayPal and any purchases are made with credit card. I buy and sell guitars on eBay and feel confident (so far) that I am doing the best to protect our finances.

Dating sites and gambling sites look suspect to me, fortunately they have no interest to me.

I think you are right, nothing really can stop it.

Funny thing, I had a cold call recently from an Indian girl about a "recent car accident" I had. (I never had one) But I played along by saying "oh yes, the bus was a write off, but the donkey was not injured fortunately, not the same for the duck though" etc etc along those lines. She stuck to her script but gave up when I said the bus company paid £10,000 compensation to the ducks family.

Odd that I don't get cold calls any more.

Col
 

The_Doc_Man

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Now there, Col, we are alike. I once put on the affect of an evangelical preacher who wanted to save the soul of the scammer and put repentance in his heart. But you know what? That good-for-nothing, unrepentant bastard hung up on me.
 

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I forgot to tell you guys something else that the managing agent asked me when I was transferred to him. When he asked me if I had a checking account and I said yes, he follows up with: "now do you have any money in any other banks?"
 

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