The savvy of today’s techno-thieves leaves nothing to be desired.
If you happen to get an email from Red Square Yoga owner Stacy Lawson citing that she was mugged in Madrid, Spain, and “all my belongings, cash, mobile phone and credit cards were stolen at gun point,” don’t believe it.
Lawson’s online information was hacked over the weekend and the hacker has been sending out email blasts announcing the fake crime. In the fake email, the hacker writes, “I need your help as am trying to raise some money. I’ve made contact with my bank but they are not providing a fast solution. I need you to lend me some money to sort my self out of this predicament, will pay back once I get this over with. Please let me know if you can assist me in anyway so i can forward you details to effect [sic] a transfer. You can reach me via email or the hotel’s desk phone….”
The View spoke with Lawson this morning who is working on rectifying the situation.
“I found out at 6:40 this morning when I got a call from a friend,” she said. “I’ve had other minor things happen but this is the first time I’ve dealt with something like this. It’s pretty random.”
Lawson did go to Europe this year, but not to Spain. It is unclear whether the hacker used only Lawson’s information in the scheme or if it was essentially a form letter in which the names of other business owners were used.
The overseas bank account transfer schemes, such as the Nigerian money transfer, have become cliché. Hackers and techno-crooks have moved on to headier tactics such as scrubbing information on business checks and reprinting them, phishing—which is creating a phony website that looks just like the website of your bank in the hopes that users will begin plugging information into it. There’s also skimming. Crooks attach skimmers to ATMs or card readers in stores or snack machines, wherever a card is swiped. The skimmer is a small electronic device the thief attaches to the card reader that stores debit card numbers and PINs. They’re hardly noticeable. Thieves have also reprinted cards or written stolen code from your bank cards and placed them on the magnetic strips of fraudulent cards to be used at will.
The Federal Trade Commission has tips on how to protect yourself from similar scams. If you are aware of any scams going on, please contact the Queen Anne View at firstname.lastname@example.org.