FBI Scam Alert: More Phony FBI Emails and Online Blackmail

Phony scamsThe Internet Crime Complaint Center's latest scam alert included too much to cover in one story, so we did one yesterday, while today's focuses on phony, Trojan-laden emails from the FBI and an email campaign targeting victims with an online blackmail scheme.

Alerts by the IC3, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), reflect recent cyber-crime trends and new takes on existing scams. Recent alerts have included warnings about Osama Bin Laden spam and a reshipping scam designed to hijack your personal information.Here's a summary of two more of the latest warnings:

Bogus FBI Email Loaded With a Trojan

Impersonating the FBI
is a favorite ploy of scammers trying to fool victims, and one recent twist on this ploy involves emails from the feds informing victims they've been observed visiting 40 illegal websites.

The IC3 issued warnings about these email campaigns in 2005 and 2006 via three public service announcements (PSAs) on February 23, 2005, November 22, 2005, and July 24, 2006, after receiving thousands of complaints. Although complaints about this scam dropped off to almost nothing by 2007, the IC3 says it's already received 300 this year.

The emails mentioned in the PSAs claimed the FBI logged the recipient's IP address on 30 or 40 illegal websites. The emails show "from" addresses of police@fbi.gov, fbi@fbi.gov, officer@fbi.gov and web@fbi.gov.

All the phony emails ordered the victims to answer questions in the attachment, which contained malware -- software designed to infect and hijack your PC or steal your personal information – namely, the W32.Sober.K@mm worm.

In 2005, the IC3 received more than 5,300 related complaints about emails claiming recipients had visited 30 forbidden sites. The number of complaints plunged to some 130 complaints in 2006, and just one in 2007 and 2008.

The IC3 received approximately 1,600 related complaints about the "40 illegal sites" emails in 2005, with no additional complaints until this year, when they received more than 300 and counting.

The latest fake emails are being sent from a spoofed fbi.gov address, tell victims the FBI has logged their IP address on more than 40 illegal sites, and instruct them to answer the questions in the malware-laden attachment.

If you receive one of these emails, do not click on the attachment. Report it to the IC3, and then delete it immediately.

Extortion Emails Targeting Physicians

The IC3 has received more then 50 complaints since March about emails attempting to extort professionals, primarily physicians. The emails informed victims that complaints of sexual indecency had been filed against them and posted online, along with their names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.

Recipients were also told "these types of comments will destroy your reputation and are permanently archived on search engine sites; you will lose thousands of dollars in revenue with a bad reputation."

Victims were told the sender could "convince the people who posted the comments to remove them" in order to preserve their reputation -- for a $250 fee.

In a related development, the IC3 has also received complaints from individuals in Asia who claim they were hired to write the complaints, collect "complaint reports" and post them online. These individuals said they were recruited via job ads posted on Asian online classified sites looking for writers.

The scammers behind this scheme appear to be screwing everyone involved, since the Asian complainants claimed they were promised $10 for each post via an online payment service or check/money order.

But one of them -- who knocked off 150 posts in one week -- was never paid and was unable to contact his "employer," who uses various aliases and employs another company to remove the complaints once victims pay up.
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