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A Hacker's Brief: Avoid these scams

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Laura Baker

Laura Baker is the Executive Director of CyberWyoming and the President of the CyberWyoming Alliance, both nonprofit organizations. She can be reached at info@cyberwyoming.org

Hackers and scammers are relentlessly targeting you and your neighbors. Below are just a few current local examples from CyberWyoming that may be help you avoid being snared by a scammer.

Living Proof Now Vital Records Scam: A Wyomingite reported a website called LivingProofNow.com that claims to get birth and death certificates for you without hassle. However, the resident never received confirmation after paying $49 and found out from his credit card statement that the Living Proof Now is located in Spain. CyberWyoming researched the issue and found that vital records website scams are common. In fact, in looking at the Living Proof Now website and clicking on Wyoming, we found this buried disclaimer: “Before we go any further, it’s important that you know…We are a privately owned website that is not affiliated, owned or operated by the U.S. Government or any government agency. You must send your mistake-free application to your state’s Health Department. You must pay any required fees directly to your state’s Health Department or other government agency.” So, basically, pay Living Proof Now $49 then continue to work with the local government. Thus their claims of getting your hassle free birth or death certificates are bogus. Here is an article from the Sioux City Journal that discusses the issue and recommends always contacting the local county government where you were born to get your birth certificate. https://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/website-scams-target-people-seeking-birth-certificates-other-documents-from-iowa-other-states/article_cfc2a315-87b3-5c26-901c-495eeb587d7e.html

MoneyGram Scam: An email impersonating Money Gram with the subject line of ‘URGENT NEEDED’ from Frank John at mgram4458@gmail.com was reported by a Sheridan resident. The email asks for your personal information (including your name) to access funds that are supposedly in your name at the MoneyGram office. CyberWyoming Note: MoneyGram made the news when they settled with the FTC in 2009 and agreed to make changes to make it harder for scammers to use MoneyGram. There have been all sorts of scam emails since then. Here’s a great one that also involved Frank John. https://bestinspam.wordpress.com/conversations-with-scammers/a-conversation-with-frank-john/

Free Bitcoin Scam: If you receive an email from gekugin@gmail.com with the subject line of “Erpz 5 Pvhll 7 Cuh 1” and an offer called Free Bitcoin – PYEC, a Casper resident wants you to know it is a scam. Do not click on any attachments and remember that if the offer is too good to be true, it probably is.

Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva Is Not Holding Funds From Africa For You: A Sheridan resident reported an email scam that requests your personal information from parfaitaguidiguo@gmail.com or mrskristalina9898@gmail.com. The email impersonates the International Monetary Fund and the legitimate director, Kristalina Georgieva. The subject line is ‘Dear beneficiary’ and the greeting is ‘COMPLIMENTS’. (It seems like the two should be reversed, so our guess is that the scammer got their programming fields mixed up.)

Another IMF Impersonation Scam: If you receive an email from smithadi763@gmail.com, paul38713@gmail.com, or pm3628587@gmail.com claiming to be Mr. Paulson EE and asking for your personal information to provide “compensation funds for scammed victims” from the IMF (International Monetary Fund), note the irony and delete it. Reported by a Sheridan resident.

Military Impersonation Scam: If you receive an email from the US Army Force at file8119@gmail.com or officefile548@aol.com claiming to be a Captain in the US Central Command in Syria and asking you to help him hide money he found that had belonged to ISIS, know it is fake and that it has a more devious purpose of trying to hurt the integrity of our military officers. Reported by a Sheridan resident.

Why am I getting Facebook suggested friend notifications via email when I’m not on Facebook? This question was recently posed by a Wyomingite. While our research wasn’t conclusive, it could be because What’s App shares information with Facebook. However, this resident didn’t use What’s App either. Air on the side of caution. Block the sender and delete the email. Don’t click on anything in the email. Unsolicited emails should always be viewed with suspicion.

Scambusters.org Advice on How to Clear Malware From Your Computer: First of all warning signs that your computer may be infected include an abnormal and dramatic slowdown of the computer’s speed, if the hard drive won’t stop running or if the hard drive fills up unexpectedly, system crashes, software programs seem to misbehave, you get a lot of pop-up messages inviting you to click a link, or your security software won’t run. What to do? Disconnect your computer from the internet, restart your computer, and run a scan using your antivirus software. (Purchased software is better than free software.) If your antivirus software has been uninstalled, you may need to reinstall it before you disconnect from the internet.

Scambusters.org Natural Disaster Scam Alerts: With the floods and hurricanes we have recently seen, be aware of bogus fundraisers, crooked contractors, and flood damaged car scams.

MS-ISAC Patch Now Alert: The Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) has published a patch now (update your software) alert for Google’s Chrome browser, Apple operating system prior to 12.5.5, Apple’s macOS Catalina prior to Security Update 2021-006, and VMWare’s vCenter Server products. If you use these products, make sure the software (or firmware) is updated.

Please report scams you may experience to phishing@cyberwyoming.org to alert your friends and neighbors.

Other ways to report a scam:

Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker: www.bbb.org/scamtracker/

Victim Support: The AARP Fraud Watch Network and Volunteers of America (VOA) created a new, free program to provide emotional support for people impacted by a scam or fraud, called ReST. Visit www.aarp.org/fraudsupport to learn more about the free program and register.

Laura Baker is the Executive Director of CyberWyoming and the President of the CyberWyoming Alliance, both nonprofit organizations. She can be reached at info@cyberwyoming.org

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