April Fools Month: Easter and Tax Day Scams and Hoaxes

There is more to April than Showers, Fool’s Day, Easter and Tax Day. Find out what you should avoid this April to protect yourself from identity theft.

Just when many of us considered ourselves safe from the April Fool’s Day Virus, Conficker, Easter and Tax Day come around the corner. It seems that April may be the month for email scams, phishing and viruses.
Conficker, hits hard on April 1, whether in actuality or in the fear and preparation for this so-called virus by tech support in corporations around the world. We learned that Conficker automatically turns off some security settings built into Microsoft Windows and blocks computer users from going to known web sites that offer anti-virus protection. However, it was not really a “virus” but a computer program that sneaks onto your computer.
We wish you a Hoppy Easter: Easter Egg Greeting Card Scam
Now with Easter just around the corner, the Easter Egg Hunt as well as several other online scams and phishing schemes are set loose. You may not be surprised to find a version of the Nigerian Lottery scam, now disguised as an Easter Lottery winner. Another Easter scam recently released involves the use of emails informing you of an Easter Egg card sent from a friend. You may receive a message such as, “Hi, your friend has sent you an EasTer greeting and offer you a link to access your greeting card. In many cases the EasTer greeting card message directs you to a site called “myfuncards.” This is actually this month’s phishing scheme of the Easter holiday preying on people’s interest and joy in sending electronic greeting cards. There are several variations on this scam including hidden programming in images sent as a greeting for Easter.
A few tips for avoiding this scam:
-Make sure the greeting includes your name. Most legitimate greeting card sites will include a name for greeting and who the card is from, for example Hello Jake, you have a greeting card from Susan. To access it visit (insert web address here).
-Some of the most popular sites to recognize include bluemountain.com, American greetings.com, and 124 Greetings.com. For a list of legitimate greeting card sites and what they have to offer for Easter visit www.associatedcontent.com/article/1541927/electronic_good_friday_greeting_card.html “>Electronic Greeting Cards for Easter and Go Green and Save Green with these 10 Greeting Card Sites
Celebrity Scam: Oprah’s Millionaire Contest
Celebrities are not immune from this month’s rash of online scams. Oprah recently released a press statement regarding a scam using her name. In this month’s scam individuals receive and email message notifying them of their nomination to Oprah’s Millionaire Contest show. This is simply the latest in a series of scams involving this celebrity name which range from promising money to tickets or travel to her show. Harpo Products have issued the following statement, “Please note that ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ and Harpo Productions are not sponsors nor do we have any involvement whatsoever with this e-mail solicitation.” There are versions of this being circulated in “snail” mail form also.
Tips for avoiding this type of scam:
-Check the homepage of any television show that makes such promises. On Oprah’s website it clearly indicates how you may get tickets to the show, as well as lists current hoaxes using this popular celebrity’s name.
-Avoid accessing web pages provided in these types of messages they will usually end up being a phishing scam, fraud or other method for obtaining your personal information.
Webmail Inbox Phishing Scam
Sample text:
Dear Webmail User,
This message was sent automatically by a program on Webmail which periodically checks the size of inboxes, where new messages are received. The program is run weekly to ensure no one’s inbox grows too large. If your inbox becomes too large, you will be unable to receive new email. Just before this message was sent, you had 18 Megabytes (MB) or more of messages stored in your inbox on your Webmail. To help us re-set your SPACE on our database prior to maintain your INBOX, you must reply to this e-mail and enter your:
Current User name: { }
and Password: { }
Date of Birth:{ }
You will continue to receive this warning message periodically if your inbox size continues to be between 18 and 20 MB. If your inbox size grows to 20 MB, then a program on Bates Webmail will move your oldest email to a folder in your home directory to ensure that you will continue to be able to receive incoming email. You will be notified by email that this has taken place. If your inbox grows to 25 MB, you will be unable to receive new email as it will be returned to the sender. After you read a message, it is best to REPLY and SAVE a copy.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Webmail Helpdesk
Tip for avoiding this scam: Never give out your name, password and date of birth. That information gives your scammer the blueprint they need to create a house of identity theft as well as access your email and attempt to solicit information and money from your friends and family.
Oh No! My VISA is expired how will I buy Easter candy? The expired VISA scam
Sample text:
Dear Client,
Your VISA account has expired. You must renew it immediately or your account will be closed. If you intend to use this service in the future, you must take action at once!
To continue click here, login to your VISA account and follow the steps.
Link to fake website removed
Thank you for using VISA!
VISA Services DEP.
Tip for avoiding this type of scam: Your VISA or any other credit card will never contact you via email with this type of message. Far too often I get my “new” credit card in the mail – which is almost as scary as this scam- with instructions on how to renew my card.
Other popular hoaxes this time of the year include charities and pets. Personally I think this has something to do with Lent, when charitable contributions increase and the thought of all those little bunnies and chicks for Easter. Be sure to check out any charitable contribution request with the organization itself and visit CharityNavigator.org to find out their standing in the world of charity.
Tax Day Thefts
Last year we reported on scams and hoaxes after your economic stimulus package. With tax day approaching more and more hoaxes are out there hoping to cash in on your fear of the IRS. In these scams you may receive in the mail (regular US postal or via email) a message that asks you to provide certain information such as SSN, Date of Birth, Full name and Address. This message may appear to come from the IRS, and offer you a “reward” for complying with the request or threaten you with losing your refund or even jail for failing to complete the request. The IRS does not contact individuals via email. If you receive a message in your email be sure to report it to the Internal Revenue Service.
You work hard for your money, no need to give it away to identity thieves. Be sure you know who and what you are dealing with before you respond to these types of messages and follow these safety tips. Stay informed about scams and hoaxes and keep your information your own.