Fraudulent company scams


The Fraud Alert - Don Shrader



A few days ago, I received an email that was supposedly from Norton-Lifelock. In the opening line, they stated, “Payment received. Order #802xxxxxx.” The email then provided an invoice number while also informing me that my Norton had expired that day.

After thanking me for using Norton for the past year – and I have not used Norton for years – the next line informed that, “We wanted to remind you that you’ve chosen the automatic renewal option. You will be billed from your saved card details for the annual amount of your plan upon expiration of your contract on Monday.”

The email went on to tell me that they were going to bill me for just short of $500 for a three-year subscription renewal. Then came the gotcha: “Deduction of amount will appear on your account within 24 hours. If you have any Question or wish to Refund and Cancel Renewal Kindly Call us on +1(252) 678-xxxx (Toll Free) within Two working hours. Thanks Norton LifeLock.” The wording in quotations is exactly as provided in the email, except that I blocked out the final numbers with an “xxxx.” Notice the improper sentence structure and grammar so typical of most of these scams.

A few weeks ago, I received a similar email from a supposed company named Intellicon whereby PayPal was “confirming” that I had sent a payment for the invoice amount to that company. A few weeks before that it was a notice, supposedly from Amazon, informing me that a package had been sent in my name to some address of which I had never heard. If you have a computer or cell phone hooked to the internet, I am sure you have received similar notices.

Of course, they are all fraudulent emails from seemingly legitimate companies since they have copied a legitimate business’ logo – whether Lowes, Home Depot, Amazon, Best Buy, whomever they think can get you to respond. These scams are ultimately intended to obtain either your credit card or banking information, or intending to infect your computer with spyware/malware whereby they can search your databases and use your computer for other fraudulent activities. Look carefully at who sent you the email and you will quickly see that it did not come from someone legitimately connected to the company supposedly sending the email.

Experts warn that if you do receive one of these messages, do not click any links or open any files. “Clicking that link can cost you thousands of dollars,” the experts warn. If you are concerned regarding such a notice, open a new browser window and then log into that vendor’s website using your proper identification and passwords. Do not log in by responding to the link provided in the spam email.

While I am addressing emails here, I have also received several phone calls recently telling me essentially the same thing, that my credit card is being charged a large amount from some company like Amazon, and if I wish to dispute the charge, I need to call the number provided immediately. While it is appropriate to independently check your accounts, do so via the instructions given in the paragraph above.

While I never called any of the phone numbers provided, I wondered how the scam worked if one did call. Researching that on the internet, I learned from others who did call the numbers provided that a foreign-sounding voice on the other end instructed the caller to go to a certain website and download a specific file. No doubt, if they had, they would have ended up in the same predicament as if they had responded directly to the email in the first place. Of course, most of these scams are perpetrated by people in foreign countries and therefore are nearly impossible to trace, much less prosecute – even if that country had any interest in prosecuting these fraudulent purveyors in the first place.

Even though it is unlikely that these con artists can be prosecuted, it is recommended by the experts that you report the phishing emails (as they are called) by forwarding them or similar texts that you may receive on your phone to spam@uce.gov. However, even though various websites all state to forward fraudulent emails to spam@uce.gov, I recently forwarded three scam emails sent to me and all three bounced back. The other alternative is to report the attempted scams to the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov.

The Fraud Alert

Don Shrader