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 WESTVILLE COMMUNITY POLICING FORUM 
Article019 - Internet Fraud
The risks, potential losses and penalties that can apply to victims of Internet fraud.

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2010-03-16
Internet Fraud can take many forms.  All of them are to varying degrees highly successful. If you inadvertently get caught up you will generally suffer financial loss. In some cases you can also face prosecution with serious penalties including the death penalty.
 
The bulk of the information presented here has been accessed from the (AFP) Australian Federal Police website. Most of the fraud discussed applies to victims in all countries and is initiated from Internet contact though not always.
 
References to the source of information are listed at the end and an extensive list of people that you can contact in South Africa if you become victim or have received communication from a suspicious source.
 
Some forms of online fraud, include:

Internet banking fraud
Phishing
Mule recruitment
Shopping and Auction site fraud
Scams
Spam
Email petitions

Internet banking fraud
Internet banking fraud is fraud or theft committed using online technology to illegally remove money from, or transfer it to, a different bank account. Types of internet banking fraud include phishing and mule recruitment.

Phishing
Phishing involves using a form of spam to fraudulently gain access to people's internet banking details. The term 'phishing' refers to the use of spam e-mails purporting to be from a bank, in this way criminals 'fish' for legitimate bank customer's logon information.

Criminals send out millions of these fraudulent e-mails to random e-mail addresses in the hope of luring unsuspecting innocent persons into providing their personal banking details.

Typically, a phishing email will ask an internet banking customer to follow a link to a fake banking website and enter his or her personal banking details.

If the link is followed, the victim often also downloads a malicious program which captures his/her keyboard strokes including any typed information such as banking login details and sends them to a third party.As well as targeting internet banking customers, phishing emails may target online auction sites or other online payment facilities.

Legitimate banks do NOT send such emails to their customers.

The SAPS works with the financial sector, internet security industries and relevant organisations to investigate crimes associated with phishing emails.
What you can do
It is important to also make others aware about these emails and encourage them to never respond to requests for personal details. Some email frauds/scams can seem extremely convincing, hence their effectiveness for criminals.

The Banking institutions suggests that you treat phishing emails as spam delete them without opening. Spam emails are a proven method for distributing viruses and other unwanted programs.

It is not necessary to forward these emails to the authorities listed at the end of this document. Financial institutions and the SAPS are made aware of current phishing emails as they happen via internal partnerships. However those listed below will respond if you do forward anything that you find suspicious.  It could be a new scam that seems to have credibility.

If you believe you are a victim and have lost money as a result of phishing activities, please contact your financial institution immediately.
 
Mule Recruitment
Diagram explaining mule recruitment

'Mule Recruitment' is an attempt to get a person to receive stolen funds using his or her bank account, and then transfer those funds to criminals overseas.

Usually, criminals send out millions of fraudulent job and employment emails to random email addresses, in the hope of involving unsuspecting, innocent persons in their criminal activity.

The best advice is that you should ignore and immediately delete any such emails.

If you have received money in your bank account, transferred or attempted to transfer money overseas under these circumstances, please contact your financial institution immediately.

Depending on the situation, it is possible that people who agree to participate in such 'jobs' may be prosecuted.

Other methods of Mule recruitment
Online criminals are now finding additional ways to launder funds which have been stolen from Australian bank customers.

The new methodology expands on existing money laundering scams; criminals advertise jobs on popular employment or job-seeking websites, online in chat rooms or through unsolicited employment emails.

In this instance, the Mule receives electronic or associated goods, purchased using fraudulently obtained funds. The Mule is then provided with instructions on how and where to forward the goods, and is promised payment of large sums, that by their magnitude suggest that something is suspect, per week for their services.

Mules unknowingly ship this equipment off, normally to an overseas address, and are often not paid for this ‘employment’.

Depending on the circumstances, Mules may also face prosecution. A conviction for an offence of money laundering may carry a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment. If a mule ends up in many overseas countries facilitating the money launderer's schemes the death penalty can apply.

If you have received money in your bank account, or have received and/or forwarded goods under these circumstances, please report the incident to your bank and the nearest police station.

Depending on the circumstances, people engaged in the laundering of stolen funds may be prosecuted.

Investment and Fund Management companies should also be aware that organised crime groups also appear to be utilising B-Pay to transfer stolen funds from victim accounts to accounts held by the management companies. Accounts are often held in false names or the result of an identity takeover. Stolen funds are then transferred from the managed fund accounts to an alternate account where the crime groups withdraw cash at a branch.

Investment companies should be aware of this methodology and audit transactions to prevent the loss of funds.
 
Shopping and auction site fraud.
In order to decrease the risk of online fraud happening to you when using online auction sites or conducting transactions over the Internet, you should familiarise yourself with the advice provided by your bank.

Regarding online transactions, it is advisable to select a secure payment service yourself rather than accept advice from the seller. Do not click on links to banking or similar services provided in emails as these may lead to fraudulent sites. If you receive a suspect email, the best course of action is to delete it immediately. Do not follow any links, or reply to the sender. By following a link, you may accidentally download a 'Trojan' or 'key logging' program, which could compromise your security. By replying, you run the risk of receiving more emails from this source.
Scams. You can forward suspect emails to various investigative agencies that specialise in tracking down the culprits.  Some of these are listed at the end.  Most will give you feedback on the likelihood that an email forwarded to them is looking for victims or simply an unsolicited advert. If in doubt throw it out without opening it!

'Nigerian letter' or '419' scams, as well as 'lottery' or 'Spanish lottery' scams, attempt to lure victims into a type of fraud known as an 'illegal advance fee'. They typically arrive via email.

Criminals send out millions of these fraudulent Spam emails to random email addresses in the hope of enticing someone to respond.

Although the stories in these scams vary widely, after an initial exchange of conversation or emails with the victim, they all usually ask victims to provide bank account or personal details in order to receive a fictitious financial windfall.

The promised windfall may be lottery winnings, a huge inheritance, a multi-million dollar bank transfer, etc. While the windfall payment is never made, victims pay large sums of money to cover various false costs and fees.

As a general rule, we recommend that you apply the standard 'physical world' test to any online proposition: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can learn more about scams at www.scamwatch.gov.au.
Spam
is unsolicited commercial messages sent via email, SMS, MMS and other, similar electronic messaging media. They may try to persuade you to buy a product or service, or visit a website where you can make purchases; or they may attempt to trick you into divulging your bank account or credit card details. To report suspect Internet fraud make use of the services offered by forwarding the suspect emails to one or more of the addresses at the end of this article.

The SAPS works cooperatively with relevant agencies locally and overseas to reduce the incidence and impact on the global community of such activity.
General advice
If you receive a suspect email, the best course of action is to delete it immediately. Do not follow any links, or reply to the sender. By following a link, you may accidentally download a 'Trojan' or 'key logging' program, which could compromise your security. By replying, you run the risk of receiving more emails from this source.
Identity theft

A large part of online crime is now centred on identity theft which is part of identity fraud and specifically refers to the theft and use of personal identifying information of an actual person, as opposed to the use of a fictitious identity. This can include the theft and use of identifying personal information of persons either living or dead.
 
Email petitions
It is common for various for email database sales organisations to sell databases containing thousands of addresses that are currently active.  They often set up petitions for you pass on to at least 10 friends or colleagues to support a good cause.  Too many people fall for the scam due the emotional content of the petition. e.g. "Stop EsKom price hike before it is implemented!"  Many are legitimate in their enthusiasm to make a statement though in practice most targets of these petitions will scrap them if they are arbitrary lists of names.  the best approach is to have each petitioner submitting individual criticisms that can be verified.

References
The following list was submitted by Malcolm Hawkey who has been the recipient of many attempted Internet Fraud attacks and has become "street wise" in his ability in identifying potential threats.  If you believe you have received suspect mail you might forward same to some of the following agencies.
 
Scams and Fraud <scams@fraudwatchinternational.com>,
scams <admin@fraudwatchinternational.com>,
phishtank <phish@phishtank.com>,
Phishing Reports <reportphishing@antiphishing.org>,
Metropolitan Police <fraud.alert@met.police.uk>,
ABSA FRAUD <forensics419@absa.co.za>,
419 Scams <419scam@saps.org.za>,
mailabuse <abuse@mweb.com>
 
Acknowledgement
The major part of this article was sourced from The Australian Federal Police (AFP) website. To visit this site follow the link below:
 
Article001 ] Article002 ] Article003 ] Article004 ] Article005 ] Article006 ] Article007 ] Article008 ] Article009 ] Article010 ] Article011 ] Article012 ] Article013 ] Article014 ] Article015 ] Article016 ] Article017 ] Article018 ] [ Article019 - Internet Fraud ] Article020 - Debit orders ] Article021 - From the horse's mouth ] Article022  - Highjacking tips ] Article023 - 5 Myths with Community Policing ] Article024 - Cybercrime - Keystroke Logging ] Article025 - Bullies and Bullying ] Article026 - Drugs ] Article027 - Cybercrime ] Article028 Fraudulent Banking Email ] Article029  -  Partnership in Crime Prevention ] Article030 Gated Communities ] Article031 - Identity Theft Prevention ] Article 032 Unconfirmed Rumours ] Article033 - False Alarms ] Article034 - Guard Huts ]