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College students and others who have student loans are the latest target of IRS impersonators. In this iteration of the ongoing, widespread scam, fraudsters threaten arrest and other penalties unless a nonexistent “federal student tax” is paid immediately.
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Ransomware is on a rampage, seizing control of personal computers and institution-wide networks and encrypting files to make them inaccessible until a ransom is paid to release them.
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It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but it’s hitting homes across the country: “virtual kidnapping,” where fraudsters try to extort money by claiming that a family member has been taken hostage.
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After seven long years, the tech support scam continues as a reigning rip-off, generating more reports nationwide to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline (877-908-3360) than any scheme except the IRS impostor ruse. Microsoft estimates that another 3.3 million Americans will fall victim in 2015, losing an estimated $1.5 billion to fraudsters posing as its or other tech company employees.
What is the cost of Internet security?
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.”
Online dating scammer bot
No matter how happy and confident we singles feel about ourselves and dating, there’s a part inside that leaves us all feeling vulnerable. One of my more serious concerns is being bamboozled. Human scammers and bots — short for online robots, though it’s actually software pretending to be human — lurk on dating sites searching for unsuspecting romantics.
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In just one month, Linda Blase received 74 phone calls — 57 of them from illegal telemarketers or robocallers.
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Back in late 1950s and early 1960s, one of the coolest series on the tube was  77 Sunset Strip, a stylish variation on hard-boiled detective noir infused with wise-cracking hipster humor - sort of Raymond Chandler meets the Rat Pack, set in what TV historian Horace Newcomb describes as "a sun-drenched world of cocktails, cool jazz and convertibles."
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The holiday season is the time for big-screen blockbusters. So perhaps it's appropriate that 2014 has ushered in a real-life tale of activists, break-ins, surveillance and the FBI that has all the makings of an action-packed, big-screen thriller.
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