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The Rise Of ‘Vishing’ And VoIP Scammers

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Vishing is a type of scam that aims to extort VoIP users for may fraudulent acts

As the telecommunications technology industry progress and produce more accessible and convenient ways for people to communicate and do business, significant uncertainty in terms of the level of security and protection of valuable and private information arise.

Nowadays, criminals are taking full advantage of the Internet and technology solutions like cloud communications and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to access crucial data for financial gain. 

VoIP frauds are rising because criminals have found a way to exploit the technology; as it easily hides their tracks with minimal risk of detection. Using fake numbers with fake area codes, scammers can easily disguise to be a government or bank representative and collect critical private information – and in most cases, get away with it.

These kinds of scams have been done with POTS and landlines before, but VoIP has made it easier for them to get away with it. These kinds of scammers try to take advantage of people who are easily overwhelmed by an official-sounding phone call. They leverage on shock value and fear to either collect information or extort money from vulnerable victims.

You might have heard of “online phishing.” It is a scam designed to gather private information like passwords, credit card numbers, and personal details, and even to extort money from unsuspecting web users. But now, criminals are initiating another type of fraud tactic called “vishing,” to carry out their scams over the telephone.

Vishing (voice or VoIP phishing) is a scamming tactic that tricks victims using seemingly legitimate call IDs and telephone numbers to persuade unsuspecting individuals to disclose personal, financial, and health information.

Vishing acts just like email spoofing, where the email addresses look like they come from a trusted source. And, because people usually believe the caller ID and the phone service, spoofing phone numbers can be used to disguise the target, by making it seem like the call is actually coming from a legitimate source. 

There are different ways that scammers can carry out their vishing schemes. Here are some of the most common techniques they use to steal information and extort money from victims:

Hosted Scams

Hosted Scams are carried out by attacking the hosted service provider and breaking into the network by taking advantage of default passwords or minimal security measures. It is one of the most straightforward and most successful technique because it does not usually need any human interaction, and scammers can steal information from a lot of people with one attack because their data are kept within an unsecured network.

Whitelist Scam

Whitelist Scamming is a popular scamming tactic while attackers hack and gain access to your account to place their IP address on your whitelist. Once they were able to do this, the scammers can make phone calls to anyone they wish to on your expense. This is similar to electricity tapping, where the scammer taps on your electricity wire and make you pay for their consumption without you knowing.

Registration Scam

This is a more sophisticated technique where the attackers need to complete a packet-based authentication before being able to place calls. It works similar to whitelist scams and will have victims pay for the calls that scammers make.

The problem with these kinds of scams and techniques is that they are challenging to track; making it tough for authorities to catch the scammers. It may be possible to trace the phone number to a particular IP address through some clever calling around to figure out what Internet service the number is using, and from there they can figure out the physical location of the caller. While it is possible, law enforcement is not very sophisticated with the technology yet, so it’s still hard for them to do it.

Nonetheless, the best way to avoid these scams is prevention. Be vigilant and research about recent modus. In the end, if you are aware and secured, you can definitely prevent criminals from making you their next victim. /apr

A consumer tech and cybersecurity journalist who does content marketing while daydreaming about having unlimited coffee for life and getting a pet llama.

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Crime

Multimillion Dollar Crypto Pyramid Scam Nabbed By SEC

SEC sues a man for selling unregistered securities. He earned more than $26 million for defrauding investors for 14 months. Click To Tweet

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SEC sues a man for selling unregistered securities. He earned more than $26 million for defrauding investors for 14 months.
Pacheco earned more than $26 million over his 14 months of operations. Photo: Marco Verch | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The Securities and Exchange Commission nabbed a multi-million dollar crypto pyramiding operation for allegedly and illegally raising $26 million from investors. The crypto pyramiding scam is owned by a businessman, Daniel Pacheco, 45, a resident of San Clemente, California who has been charged by the SEC with selling unregistered securities as well as operating a multimillion-dollar cryptocurrency pyramid scheme. A civil injunction was filed by the SEC against Pacheco.

According to the press release by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Pacheco operated between Jan. 2017 and Mar. 2018 and sold unregistered securities through the California-based companies he controls, IPro Solutions LLC and IPro Network LLC. A total of $26 million were raised from the illegal operation by selling “IPro Packages” that consisted of e-commerce lessons on how to make profits with an online store as well as providing its customers with a recruitment-based compensation plan and the ability to convert points into IPro’s own ‘cryptocurrency,’ Pro Currency.

The crypto money, Pro Currency, is listed on CoinMarketCap as “ProCurrency” with the abbreviation of “PROC” and currently has an ROI of -98.66 percent. Since January 2018, PROC has been in a continuous decline, falling from $0.10 down to as low as $0.0013.

More than 20,000 members in 14 months

Pacheco told investors, in an effort to recruit them into joining his business, that they will be exclusively using Pro Currency as they aim to build an ecosystem that would increase the value of the cryptocurrency in the long run. Furthermore, the investor also had the choice to pay an addition $50 annual activation fee to become active members with potential advancements to becoming independent sales associates or premium independent sales associates. With this and many other more promises, Pacheco managed to grow IPro’s member base rapidly to 20,000.

The SEC argues that since the company is selling the iPro instructional packages involve “an investment in a pyramid scheme; and an investment in the PRO Currency digital assets,” Pacheco should have registered it with the SEC because the case involving iPro merits no exemption from registration.

“We allege that Pacheco hid an old fraud under the guise of cutting-edge technology,” said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. “He enticed investors by offering them the opportunity to speculate in cryptocurrency, when in fact, he was simply operating a pyramid scheme.”

The SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, charges Pacheco with violating Sections 5(a), 5(c), 17(a)(1) and 17(a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder. There were seven relief claimants as face cases of the complaint, and they are suing the company so that the company will return their resources. No charges were filed against the investors involved in the case.

Mismanagement of funds ends operations

The SEC said that the illegal business had earned Pacheco enough money to purchase a luxury house and a Rolls Royce.

“IPro’s inevitable collapse was hastened by Pacheco’s fraudulent use of investor funds, which included, among other things, the all-cash purchase of a $2.5 million home and a Rolls Royce. Pacheco’s misappropriation accelerated the rate at which IPro became unable to pay the commissions and bonuses due to its investors,” reads the press release.

According to the SEC, Pacheco also transferred $1.9 million to Accept Success Corporation, the company owned by his daughter but is also controlled by Pacheco, and $2 million to E Profit Systems LLC, a limited liability company that he also managed and used to retain $600,000 of IPro funds unreasonably.

The alleged mismanagement of IPro’s funds and the asset has caused the company to decline fast leaving them no choice but to run away from paying the bonuses and commissions of their investors, the SEC said. While Pacheco only needs to allocate 30% of the company’s asset to pay out their investors and member, they were only able to pay less than 30% of their payables in January which lead them to cease their operations in March.

“Pacheco engaged in a fraudulent pyramid scheme by soliciting IPro members through false and misleading means, including websites, promotional conferences, and in-person meetings, in which he touted the profit-making aspects of IPro’s iPN Compensation Plan, while at the same time diverting IPro funds for his own benefit.”

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Michael Avenatti To Nike: Stop “Rigging” The System And “Acting Innocent”

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Michael Avenatti said Nike is rigging the system and acting innocent.

Michael Avenatti, one of America’s most infamous lawyers, is facing the court himself after he was charged for attempting to extort from Nike last month. The lawyer, who is known for being vocal in social media, has been airing his thoughts and sentiments on Twitter and in a recent Tweet, he accused the athletic brand of “rigging” the system while pretending they are “innocent.”

Federal prosecutors in New York announced that they filed charges against Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who said he had a major announcement against Nike and it’s alleged involvement in a ‘major school/college basketball scandal.’

Read More: COURT DOCUMENT ALLEGES MICHAEL AVENATTI OF DEMANDING PAYMENTS FROM NIKE TO CONDUCT AN ‘INTERNAL INVESTIGATION’ THAT THE COMPANY DID NOT REQUEST

The charges filed by Assitant United States Attorneys Matthew Podolsky, Robert L. Boone, and Robert B. Sobelman alleges that Avenatti of attempting to extort Nike for up to $25 million by threatening to release damaging information about the company.

He now faces five counts of conspiracy to commit extortion and was arrested yesterday. He also faces a separate case for wire fraud and bank fraud in the Central District of California.

According to the lawsuit, Michael Avenatti attempted to conspire with another party to “extract more than $20 million in payments from a publicly traded company by using his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”

Amid the charges that the 48-year-old is currently facing, Avenatti hits back at the company. In a late night tweet, the attorney accused Nike of making money out of the backs of student-athletes, exploiting them and their families.

He also said in a now-deleted post that colleges and athletic organizations like the NCAA should pay the student-athletes “legitimately” because they make “billions off their backs.”

“College athletes deserve to be paid. Legitimately. Colleges/the NCAA make billions off their backs. But companies like Nike should not rig the system and take advantage of the athletes/ their families at the same time they bullsh**t America and act like they are innocent,” Avenatti said on Twitter, Thursday morning.

He previously denied the allegations against him on Monday and began tweeting what he called evidence of the scandal the day he was arrested. He was released on a $300,000 bond in the New York case and has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence of all charges.

Extorting Nike

Prosecutors in the case said that Avenatti met with Nike’s attorneys to demand a payment ‘to make a multi-million dollar payment” and make an additional 1.5 million dollar payment to an individual that the lawyer refers to like his client.

The client was said to be an AAU coach, whose team have previously made deals with Nike. According to the affidavit, Nike refused to renew the contract with Avenatti’s client further. Avenatti claimed that his client has evidence that would prove that Nike employees have paid the families of high school players “similar to conduct a rival company” that had recently been subjecting of criminal proceedings in the District. He named three high school players in particular and indicated that his client is well aware of the said payments as well.

Earlier Monday, Avenatti posted on Twitter that he will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal by Nike that he and his team have discovered. “This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.” Nike’s shares reportedly fell as much as 1.3% after the tweet of Avenatti’s supposed expose.

The legal document obtained by Z6Mag also revealed that on March 20, Avenatti called the representative of Nike concerning the demanded payment and if those demands were not met, the lawyer will “go and take ten billion dollars off your client market cap […] I’m not f*cking around.”

Related: [TIMELINE] THE EVENTS THAT PRECEDE THE ARREST OF MICHAEL AVENATTI

The affidavit from an investigator from the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that Avenatti and another party referred to as “CC-1,” used “threats of economic and reputational harm to extort Nike.” Specifically, Avenatti “threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament at which he would announce allegations of misconduct by employees of Nike.”

The complaint characterized the unnamed CC-1 as an attorney licensed to practice in the state of California and is similarly known to have represented celebrities and public figure clients like Avenatti.

The attorneys of Nike said that they asked for time from Avenatti and the defendant gave them until Tuesday, two days after the alleged meeting.

“If [Nike] want to have one confidential settlement and we’re done, they can buy that for twenty-two and half million dollars, and we’re done[…] Full confidentiality, we ride off into the sunset,” Avenatti allegedly told Nike’s lawyers as indicated in the filed court document.

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Scam Alert: Blockmailers Pose As CIA To Demand Bitcoin Payment

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Blockmailers Poses As CIA To Demand Bitcoin Payment

A new modus to blackmail people into paying bitcoins is posing as a CIA agent who will magically take your imaginary troubles away. Consider this as your warning.

Some scammers are posing as the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fool those who have not known better into giving up $10,000 worth of Bitcoin. According to a Reddit post by r/sajber in a post entitled “CIA got me fam,” he received an email from a supposed CIA agent who is “one of several people who have access” to documents that may implicate him.

The case that the email is talking about, Case #97416285, refers to an imaginary crime which includes a warning that he was tagged in an investigation that has supposedly distributed and stored pornographic materials that involve underage children.

The “CIA Agent” identified himself as Hong Lees and a “technical collection officer.” He warns that personal details including email address, home address, work address, and a list of relatives are included in the said case and that he will be up for arrest. The certain Hong Lee said that the case is part of a “large international operation set to arrest more than 2000 individuals suspected of pedophilia in 27 countries.”

It’s interesting to note that the supposed email actually used masked email domain (@esxco.cia-gov.ga), as well as an image of CIA crest in the signature as if it would help build trust and establish legitimacy.

Amusingly, the supposed problem can go away only if he would just transfer $10,000 in Bitcoin to an address given by Hong Lees, who claimed that he has access to the documents and have enough security clearance to “amend and remove your details from the case.”

Hong Lees said in the email that he is contacting people who are wealthy and who maybe are concerned about their reputation.

Hong Lees prefers that the transfer to be made with online bitcoin exchanges such as Coinbase, Bitstamp, and Coinmama and that the transfer should be made before the deadline which is March 27, 2019.

He, however, asked for a time after the transfer is confirmed to make the changes in the supposed CIA document, erasing the name and information of those who successfully made the payment. He made it clear that he needs “ few days” to access and edit the files, so any potential payment should be made well before the arrests start on April 8, 2019 (very convenient).

For an average reasonable person, it is obvious that the email is a scam. The CIA will not be emailing perpetrators of sexual abuse, let alone ask bribe from them. If in the event they would, it’s very reckless if they use their government email or their real name. Thus, the best course of action is not to respond or better yet, report the incident to the authorities.

The parallelism of this modus operandi with other modus done offline is uncanny. An illegal spamming activity has been calling residents in Milwaukee claiming to represent a local law firm by the name of “Anderson and Thompson.” The modus operandi is that the group will call random Milwaukee residents under the disguise of a local law firm to collect an old debt from a legal conflict and that the debt must be paid immediately.

Similarly, the phone scammers are also using masked phone numbers (as with masked email addresses) to establish legitimacy. According to the report, the spammer is using a series of three phone numbers, all with a 414 area code, a local Wisconsin area code.

Furthermore, the scam is also a slight upgrade from the infamous Bitcoin “sextortion” scam. According to this modus, a “magic pixel” has been smuggled onto the target’s computer, which then recorded videos of the potential victim masturbating. The masturbation videos wouldn’t be released as long as $1,900 in Bitcoin is sent to a specific address. It was first discovered in June 2017 and is estimated to have swindled more than $300,000 worth of Bitcoins from victims.

The CIA scam, as well as other modus operandi, tells a story that technology is available for everyone’s disposal – including criminals. That is why it is important for people to be aware of existing techniques and modus to avoid being a victim of scams and extortion operations. /apr

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