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(A message from Fraud Watch International)
Lottery scam emails are increasing at an alarming rate. It begins with an email claiming the recipient has won a lottery. They are to contact a claims agent to collect their winnings, usually at a free email address. The unsuspecting consumer contacts the claims agent who sends a claim form to verify their identity. They must return the form with their personal details along with copies of their passport and driver's license to “verify their true identity.” This is where the scam begins. The fraudsters now have enough information to duplicate the consumer's identity.
The responding consumer receives an email with three options of how to collect their winnings. They can have the money wired to their bank account, they can open an account with a specified bank (bogus), or they can pick up their winnings personally (normally from Amsterdam ).
Most people want their winnings transferred into their bank account. This involves upfront fees for taxes, insurance or even legal fees. Victims transfer money as requested via Western Union . If they do not want to pay upfront fees, they can open an online account with a specified bank, who's ‘policy' requires a deposit of around US$3,000. This bank is fake. Alternatively, victims are able to pick up their money personally by traveling to Amsterdam , where they are required to pay a release fee in cash, and receive their winnings in counterfeit currency.
If you have given personal details:
These fraudsters are after enough information to commit identity theft. They will request information such as personal contact details, address, workplace, and next of kin details. They will also request copies of passports and drivers licenses. When they have all this information, they are then able to commit Identity Theft using all the personal information obtained.
If they only have your email address and telephone number, then you are not at risk. If you have provided a majority of the above information, then you are at risk of becoming a victim of Identity Theft.
If you have lost money:
If you have already given money to these fraudsters for any variety of reasons, unfortunately, there is not much chance of recovery. Once the fraudsters have your cash, even if they are caught and prosecuted, your money is gone.
Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Minimize your risk of becoming a victim of Identity Theft by following these suggestions:
- Shred all pre-approved credit offers, account statements, and financial documents before disposing of them.
- Do Not carry your social security card in your wallet or purse
- Keep your mailbox locked or secured
- Remove mail from your mailbox promptly
- Do Not print your driver's license or social security number on your checks
- Review monthly credit card statements before paying the bill
- Shop online only at secured sites
- Never provide personal information unless you have initiated the contact or you are positive of the identity of the person you are dealing with
- Install and regularly update virus protection software on your computer
- Ensure that passwords are not easy for another person to guess by using a combination of letters and numbers
- Obtain a copy of your credit reoprt each year to verify activity
(A message from the US Secret Service)
4-1-9 Schemes frequently use the following tactics:
- An individual or company receives a letter or fax from an alleged "official" representing a foreign government or agency;
- An offer is made to transfer millions of dollars in "over invoiced contract" funds into your personal bank account;
- You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction;
- You are requested to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone/fax numbers;
- You receive numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logo testifying to the authenticity of the proposal;
- Eventually you must provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees or bribes;
- Other forms of 4-1-9 schemes include: c.o.d. of goods or services, real estate ventures, purchases of crude oil at reduced prices, beneficiary of a will, recipient of an award and paper currency conversion.
If you have already lost funds in pursuit of the above described scheme, please contact your local Secret Service field office .
Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud Overview
The perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud (AFF), known internationally as " 4-1-9 " fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes, are often very creative and innovative.
Unfortunately, there is a perception that no one is prone to enter into such an obviously suspicious relationship. However, a large number of victims are enticed into believing they have been singled out from the masses to share in multi-million dollar windfall profits for doing absolutely nothing. It is also a misconception that the victim's bank account is requested so the culprit can plunder it -- this is not the primary reason for the account request -- merely a signal they have hooked another victim.
- In almost every case there is a sense of urgency;
- The victim is enticed to travel to Nigeria or a border country;
- There are many forged official looking documents;
- Most of the correspondence is handled by fax or through the mail;
- Blank letterheads and invoices are requested from the victim along with the banking particulars;
- Any number of Nigerian fees are requested for processing the transaction with each fee purported to be the last required;
- The confidential nature of the transaction is emphasized;
- There are usually claims of strong ties to Nigerian officials;
- A Nigerian residing in the U.S. , London or other foreign venue may claim to be a clearing house bank for the Central Bank of Nigeria;
- Offices in legitimate government buildings appear to have been used by impostors posing as the real occupants or officials.
The most common forms of these fraudulent business proposals fall into seven main categories:
- Disbursement of money from wills
- Contract fraud (C.O.D. of goods or services)
- Purchase of real estate
- Conversion of hard currency
- Transfer of funds from over invoiced contracts
- Sale of crude oil at below market prices
Crime Prevention Tips
- When stopping at night, park in a well-lighted and well-traveled area.
- Keep all doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car.
- Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
- Park close as you can to your destination and make note of where you parked.
- Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
- Place packages or valuables in the trunk of car or out of sight.
- Locate your keys prior to leaving the building.
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not put packages and/or purse them down or on top of car in order to open the door.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
- Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If shopping at night, go with a friend or family member.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- Stay alert to your surroundings.
- Be extra careful if you carry a wallet or purse; they are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, bus stops, and on buses.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Keep cash/wallet in your front pocket. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
- Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen, or misused.
- Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
- After placing and concealing parcels inside your vehicle, get in and park in another location in the parking lot before reentering the store/mall.
- Lock all doors and windows even when leaving for a short period of time
- When leaving home for an extended period of time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspaper and mail.
- Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.
- Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.
- Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE (ATM)
- Choose an ATM located in a police station, mall, or well-lighted location.
- Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.
- Protect your PIN – Shield the ATM keypad from anyone standing near you.
- Do not throw your ATM receipt out at the ATM location.
Preventing pop-up ads is a frustrating experience. Most of us have had the displeasure of closing the browser only to find that there are pop-up or pop-under windows that have arrived on our desktop. Pop-up windows appear over your current window, while pop-under windows pop-under your browser window so that when you close the browser you see windows that have opened during your browser session.
To avoid these pop-up or pop-under windows requires some software intervention. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous software vendors who offer "free" pop-up prevention software. Most of the free pop-up prevention software does not prevent pop-under windows. Additionally, free pop-up prevention software generally will prevent pop-ups you want while allowing sites that have routed around the software to send pop-ups anyhow.
The only other way to prevent these pop-up ads is to use software to block them. Keep in mind that any software you buy to prevent pop-up ads will not protect you from future pop-up ad technologies. Be sure you purchase one that contains free updates. Two examples are Spy Bot and AdAware. The company allows you to download a free 15 day trial before paying for the product. This is only one title. Many more titles are out there. Try to find one that is connected with a legitimate company.
What is Smishing?
The use of cell phones and other mobile devices to lure victims into providing their personal information.
Victim receives a text message to contact a toll free number in order to verify/update account information or to inform them of fraud against their account. This text may include: financial institution name and/or a portion of an account number. When the victim calls and enters their personal information, it is captured by suspects and your account is now compromised.
If you inadvertently provide your account and/or personal information, please contact our Loss Prevention Department immediately.
Please note Insight Credit Union will not send text messages to contact us regarding your account information.