Ransomware: $18 Million and Counting … in Only 15 Months

Catherine Heslep was logging off Gmail when her computer was hijacked, another victim of ransomware. “Your files have been encrypted,” the message on the screen proclaimed. “You will not be able to access them without an encryption code.” “The cost for the code was 60 bitcoin, which translates to $700,” she says. Getting no response, the cybercriminals issued another ominous warning the next day: “If you don’t believe us, pick five files and we’ll decrypt them to prove it. You …

Mac Attack (and More): The Latest in the Tech Support Scam

For six years, telephones have been ringing off the hook with alarming but bogus news: There’s a dangerous virus on your computer, and the caller – a self-described technician with Microsoft, “Windows” or an antivirus software company – says he can remove it … for a price. But now, it’s not just PC users at risk for the notorious tech support scam. Mac users (and the machines themselves) are also vulnerable – and this time, fix-it fraudsters don’t even have …

Hackers Guzzle Your Money via Starbucks Mobile App

Starbucks devotees, prepare for a jolt beyond what’s provided in those morning cappuccinos: Hackers are draining financial accounts of customers who use a Starbucks gift card or mobile app to pay for coffee. The (no latte pun intended) skinny on this scam: Thieves hack victims’ online Starbucks accounts, via the users’ weak and/or overused passwords or credential-stealing malware, to access linked payment accounts – credit and debit cards, PayPal and bank accounts. This allows them to add a new gift card, …

FTC: $1.7 Billion Lost to Fraudsters in 2014 — ID Theft Top Complaint … Again

Consumers reported losing $1.7 billion to scams and frauds in 2014, according to an annual review released by the Federal Trade Commission. That figure is likely a fraction of actual losses, since many people never report their victimization. For the 15th consecutive year, identity theft was the top complaint in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, accounting for 13 percent of the total 2.5 million filed complaints. That’s the same percentage as in 2013, but with more people reporting …

Brooke Astor’s Grandson Tells Senate Panel of Financial Abuse

The Senate Special Committee on Aging held one of its periodic hearings on financial abuse of older people the other day, this time inviting a relative involved in one of the more spectacular headline-making cases in recent years to testify. The grandson of socialite Brooke Astor, who blew the whistle on his father for plundering millions from his grandmother’s estate, told the Senate panel Wednesday that his grandmother’s greatest legacy may be the national attention focused on elder financial abuse. “While my grandmother …

Stand Guard Against Veterans Scams

As we honor our former military personnel, Veterans Day is also a good time to recognize the year-round attempts to defraud them and to take advantage of those who appreciate their sacrifice and service. In some scams, veterans are specifically targeted. In others, fraudsters impersonate active-duty or former soldiers or claim to be working on their behalf to con patriotic civilians. A rundown of common schemes: Charity scams: Bogus charities that claim to benefit veterans are also among the most successful schemes, …