The Securities Investor Protection Agency is warning consumers about an elaborate phishing scam that targets investment crime victims.
This time, the cyber fraudsters are taking aim at those who have already been victimized by investment scams.
The agency issued the warning after the organization learned that crooks were contacting the victims of investment scams, pretending to be federal SIPC agents.
The scammers target those who already lost money to an investment scheme, hoping to cash in.
The victims are contacted via email or phone and asked to pay an up front fee to recover their stolen investments. The phony agents then have the victims fill out forms with personal information and return them.
“When the liquidation of a brokerage firm is handled by SIPC, investors with missing stocks or cash do not pay a fee for recovery of those assets,” said agency president Stephen Harbeck. “Any individuals contacted by supposed representatives of SIPC who request a fee or personal information should be very wary.”
How the Investment Scam Works
The scammers focus on victims who have lost money in the past due to fraudulent investments. Crooks contact the victims trying to squeeze a payment out of them.
Those who refuse are contacted within a few weeks by someone claiming to be an SIPC agent. The phony agents tell victims the SIPC has seized the assets of a company and plan to return money to investors.
That’s when the fake agents con personal information from the victims by sending a bunk form. Anyone who may have been contacted by one of these fake agents is being asked to contact the SIPC at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 371-8300.
What is Phishing?
Cyber crooks use phishing to gather sensitive information from unsuspecting users, such as passwords, credit card information or any personal details that can be used to turn a profit.
Often, criminals pose as an agent or representative from a trustworthy agency. Email correspondence and instant messaging are often used to direct victims to a fake website that looks and feels like a legitimate one.
Recently, phishing scams have wreaked havoc on scores of unsuspecting victims. They pose as officials from banking institutions, government entities, even representatives from popular social networking sites.
Never reply to an email or pop-up message asking for your personal information or financial data. Don’t click on email links from people you don’t know. Phishers can manipulate links to take you to a different destination than it appears.
Protect Yourself from Phishing
Be wary of emails that appear to be from a legitimate organization. Scammers are adept at sending emails that appear to come from any number of organizations, whether it’s a bank, Facebook or government agency. Never reveal your personal information or payment data through one of these emails.
When in doubt, call your bank or credit card number directly using the information provided on your real financial statements.
It is also important to check your financial statements regularly to ensure no unauthorized charges appear on your account.
Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up-to-date and use a firewall. Make sure this software is updated frequently.
Whenever you get a suspect email, forward that email to email@example.com as well as the actual organization the phishers are posing as. Phishing can also be reported to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group is comprised of law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, security vendors and others to help weed out and stop Internet crooks.
The trick to avoid becoming a victim is to stay wary and maintain a healthy skepticism when it comes to your inbox. Don’t let the crooks get the best of you.Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com