According to the latest FBI reports, cyber criminals have been using photo-sharing programs more often to reach into our pockets without permission. Of course the process is not quite so straightforward, but the end result is always the same. One of the most common methods involves utilizing vehicle advertisements to lure in trusting potential buyers. It is a new twist on an old plot to be sure, but it seemingly is still effective with a number of people.
To get the information they need, they use fake advertisements for vehicles for sale. They offer up pictures if you request them and they use that contact to then send you files with malicious software that can harm your computer. This ultimately leads the victim to a series of fake websites that all look totally real, but are totally run by the cyber criminals themselves.
At this point, they offer any number of things to make it look like it is on the up and up. Live customer support, live chat, technical support and so on are all available to make it look legit. Once the victim is interested in the vehicle, the scam artists will secure payment. At this point the criminals simply disappear and the victim is left with nothing.
This scheme is run in many different ways, but the photo sharing sites are the latest wave. There are ways to ensure that you are safe from these criminals and others like them.
One key is to avoid buying from someone that contacts you as a “cold call” and out of the blue. This includes sellers on auction sites that you lose the bid on and then they call to say the initial bidder backed out. This tricky way of doing business is gaining in popularity as well.
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Always check to make certain that a website is secure. Do your research on any car dealership that is being advertised. If they are legit you should be able to independently confirm that through the BBB.
If the deal is too good to be true, then accept that it is too good to be true. The scam artists have to sweeten the deal to that level to get people to bite. Always update your software and your anti-spyware.
If this particular scam has happened to you personally, it is important that you report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. They can help you determine what to do and at a minimum it will benefit others down the road.