Thursday, December 2, 2010

Internet Crime Complaint Center's (IC3) Scam Alerts

This report, which is based upon information from law enforcement and complaints
submitted to the IC3, details recent cyber crime trends and new twists to previously-existing
cyber scams.

New Twist on Extortion/Hit Man Scam

The IC3 has received several complaints referencing a new twist on the
extortion/hit man scam, which is now targeting nannies and day care providers.
The fraudster contacts the potential victims via email claiming their team was hired
by a friend of the victim to "terminate" them. The fraudster demands amounts ranging
from $150,000 to $250,000 to call off the hit and claims he will hand over a tape
containing evidence as to who hired him once the amount is paid. The recipient is
threatened with murder and the kidnapping of the children in their care if they
fail to comply.

The majority of the victims had some affiliation with a nanny position and speculated
that the fraudster must have obtained their contact information through an online
classified ad offering their services as nannies. Others stated they had advertised
online that they were seeking a nanny, while one victim was reportedly a day care

Payment Processor Possibly Conducting a Ponzi Scheme

Since January 2010, the IC3 has received hundreds of complaints regarding a website
that victims reportedly used to transfer money for the sales of firearms; however,
the website has not allowed them to withdraw the funds after their merchandise was

The website claims to be a payment processor to be used as an alternative to other
familiar online payment transfer services and was created to allow for the purchase
of items that others of its kind do not allow (e.g., firearms). The website encourages
consumers to use their services by advertising that they send money to consumers
or anyone with an email address, an individual can easily pay for anything using
the web, and sign-up is free, quick, and easy.

The website appears to have been set up as a legitimate business but shortly after
operations began, customers started experiencing funding delays. Ultimately, customers
who received funds only received partial payments, and those payments were delayed
by months.

Additional research indicates that the money submitted for transfer may have been
fraudulently misappropriated. This scam appears to have become a Ponzi scheme with
previous customers being paid by funds from new customers.

Fraudsters Preying on Individuals Who are Wanting to Adopt

The IC3 received information from law enforcement and complaints filed with the
IC3 concerning an adoption scam. The scam is an attempt to collect personal information
and funds from individuals seeking to adopt a child. Victims reported responding
to on-line advertisements for adoptions, such as "Baby Needs A Home." The operators
of the site are fraudsters who claimed to have an overseas orphaned child in need
of adoption. Preying on victims' emotions, the fraudsters explained how they promised
to care for the child after the mother's death.

The fraudsters said they were not affiliated with an adoption agency because no
such agencies exist in their area. Nevertheless, they asked the victims to send
pictures of their family and to complete forms that required personal information
such as Social Security Number and their mother's maiden name. Fraudsters sent the
victims a birth certificate and pictures of a child. One victim reported that the
birth certificate appeared altered. Fraudsters told victims to send hundreds of
dollars via money order, credit card, or wire transfer to a bank account for legal
fees. The fraudsters claimed they would "ship" the child upon receipt of the funds.
Instead, the fraudsters pocketed the money gained from the scam and provided no
children for adoption.

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