May 23

Zombie Twitter accounts, Boiler rooms and card fraud

We’ve had a bumper crop of dodgy dealings in the last month.

Zombie attack

For a start, if you’re on Twitter (like us @Moneymagpie) you need to watch out for ‘Zombie accounts’ (pretend Twitter users set up just to harm other users) that send out tweets saying ‘haha this is the funniest video I’ve EVER SEEN’ which sticks nasty Trojans and viruses in your computer if you click on the link. Ugh! There’s a good article from the Guardian about it here.

The Trojans are particularly nasty because they sit in your computer, search it for banking log-on passwords and watch while you log on to your bank and savings accounts. They then go in afterwards, using your passwords etc and take your money out! Mean huh?

So, as ever, as with Facebook, emails and anything else online, if you don’t recognise the sender or you’re in any way suspicious DON’T CLICK ON THE LINK.

Boiler room list

It turns out that the FSA has done a good job of protecting over 38,000 people (mostly in London and the South-East and Yorkshire) from being targeted by nasty scam artists trying to get their money.

They’ve been given what’s called a ‘sucker list’, i.e. a list of what scammers consider are suckers for a high-yielding investment. This list would be used by ‘boiler rooms’ con-artists. These are high-pressure salesmen who ring you up and try and sell you worthless shares. These kinds of scams tend to work well on older men who have a lot of experience in investing in shares. You’d think they would spot the con but very often they don’t.

These kinds of share frauds are estimated to cost Brits around £200m a year. There are more and more boiler room scams around too. If you want to see how a boiler room really works, watch the film called Boiler Room with Ben Affleck and Giovanni Ribisi. It’s really good and very enlightening!

In February, the FSA reported that it had seen a dramatic increase in the number of fraudsters selling shares using the names, registration numbers and addresses of authorised firms in an attempt to trick people into thinking they were legitimate.

They say that if you get one of these calls you should just put the phone down on them. I agree…although even better is to say ‘could you hold on a minute…’, put the phone down on the table then go off and wash the dishes, tidy the house, write some letters, finish the book you were reading…anything to keep them holding on and getting frustrated. Do that any time they call and you’ll get your own back just a little bit!

A sharp rise in credit card fraud

Apparently in the last twelve months the number of victims of the ‘hidden crime’ of card fraud has leapt by 4%. It’s now 2.4 million people who have been affected. In fact, we’re three times more likely to be victims of plastic card fraud than we are to have our homes burgled. Makes you think eh?

So, again, just be aware. Don’t click on any links that are apparently sent to you by your bank because they won’t be. Watch your card at all times and join up to the free CreditExpert offer which allows you to see your credit report 24 hours a day in case someone is stealing your identity.


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