The Federal Trade Commission, which has declared war on Internet scams, warned consumers on Monday not to open a bogus e-mail that appears to come from its fraud department because it carries an attachment that can download a virus. The e-mail says it is from "firstname.lastname@example.org" and has the FTC's government seal.
But it was not issued by the agency and has attachments and links that will download a virus that could steal passwords and account numbers, the agency said.
"It's a treasure trove for identity theft," said David Torok of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "We're concerned. The virus that's attached to the e-mail is particularly virulent."
The agency, which is one of several government agencies investigating cyber fraud, did not know how many people had received the e-mail.
"We've received hundreds if not thousands of calls and complaints, this one may have had a large distribution," he said.
Recipients should forward the e-mail to email@example.com, an FTC spam database used in investigations.
Nine percent of people surveyed in a poll conducted in August and September reported having had their identities stolen, Bari Abdul, a vice president at security software maker McAfee Inc, said at a cyber security conference on Oct 1.
Not every scam has each of these warning signs, but if you recognize several of them, you probably have cause for concern.
- Their profile pictures looks professionally done and can be found on a modeling website.
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- They claim to have blonde hair and blues eyes when the picture is dark hair and brown eyes or vice versa.
- They claim to be Native American or some other ethnicity when the photo is Caucasian.
- They typically claim to be from the US (or your local region) but they are overseas, or going overseas mainly to Nigeria, sometimes the UK for business or family matters.
- Their spelling is atrocious, they are notorious for using "i" instead of "I", mix up their phrases: "i will like to heer, I am kool."
- They appear uneducated with their speaking/writing skills.
- They immediately start using pet names with you: hon/hun baby/babe, angel, over-use emoticons, and BUZZ all the time.
- They do not like to answer personal questions about themselves and tend to ignore questions.
- They typically ask you to get on your webcam yet they never seem to have a webcam of their own.
- They claim it was destiny or fate and you are meant to be together, claiming God brought you to him/her.
- They send you poems or love letters from lovingyou.com.
- They are not usually around on the weekends to IM or they IM at unusual hours for your time zone
- They ask for your phone # but when they call, you can barely understand a word.
- They do not know common questions that every US citizen would know.
- They want your address to send you flowers, candy, and teddy bears, purchased with stolen credit cards.
- They are in so love with you BUT they need you to send money so they can come to you.
- They have no close family, friend or business associates to turn to, even the US Embassy, instead they can only rely on a stranger they picked off the internet.
- They would like to mail you packages or letters and have you forward them on to them in Africa, sometimes to another US address. To them, love equals financial assistance and if you do not send them money or help them out with what they ask, you do not love them. They tend to ask for cell phones and laptops.
- They will ask you to open an account for them in your name or they will ask you for your account information.
- They will send you a check, Qchex, or money order and ask you to cash it for them and wire the money to them via Western Union.
- Many claim to have lost a spouse/child/parent in a horrific traffic/airplane accident or they are sick or in the hospital.
- They often claim they are in the hospital and the doctor will not perform the operation unless you send money.
- There is always some desperate story as to why you have to send money. If you deny them or question them, they become verbally abusive and will resort to threats. Above all if you call them a scammer. they are highly offended and some will start throwing words at you in their native language.
By Linda from IN
Editor's Note: Be warned, there are US citizens who will take advantage of the gullible over the Internet as well. Be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true.