FBI warns of photo sharing scam
Victims are sent photos or links to photo galleries and then get ripped off AND have their computers infected.
An increase in crimes targeting people who are looking to buy items online led the FBI to issue a warning this week about viewing images or following links to photo-sharing sites.
Victims will often have been shopping for a vehicle online when they encounter an ad that piques their interest. The ads don't have any images, but say they will be provided upon request.
If the photos are requested, the victim will received either a photo as an attachment or a link to a photo gallery. After clicking on the link or opening the photo, the victim gets sucked into a fake website -- one that mimics the site the ad was on.
"The photos can and do often contain malicious software that infects the victim’s computer, directing the user to fake websites that look nearly identical to the real sites where the original advertisement was seen," the FBI said. "The cyber criminals run all aspects of these fake websites, including 'tech support' or 'live chat support' and any 'recommended' escrow services."
Then, after agreeing to buy the item -- and paying for it -- the victim finds that they don't receive anything and the seller is no longer accessible. As a bonus, the victim is also left with a computer that has malicious software on it.
Here are some tips from the FBI about how to safely shop online:
- Watch out when you are approached after losing an online auction with an offer from the seller explaining the original bidder didn't follow through. (Some eBay users have reported this problem cropping up again recently.)
- Don't buy from a site unless it's secure and you know it to be authentic.
- If you're going to use an escrow service, only use one that is established.
- When working with a car dealership, be sure to check how long it has been in business to be sure it is legitimate.
- Be suspicious when you see something you're interested in buying and the price is far below what it is selling for elsewhere.
- Before you download a file onto your computer, scan it to detect viruses or malicious software.
- Make sure your software -- including anti-virus and firewall protection -- is updated.
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