Beware of cunning romance and 'vishing' scams: Stay protected

20:00 31.08.2023

Don't trust everything you hear over the phone. As technology advances and innovates, you might hope or even expect scams to become a thing of the past. Not so much! It's important to remember that technology is impartial, benefiting the everyday lives of regular people but also providing new opportunities for criminals and scammers to thrive, especially through what's known as "vishing." Vishing or "voice phishing" is when scammers call or leave voice messages to trick you into sharing sensitive info like bank account details, credit card numbers or passwords. They're sneaky and often pretend to be from reputable organizations to catch you off guard. Some might even use voice-enhancing technology to disguise their true identity and mislead you into believing you may know them.

So, how do you keep these vishing villains at bay? Beware of unsolicited calls. First and foremost, be cautious with unsolicited calls. Keep your guard up, especially if a call comes from an unknown number or someone who says they're from a trusted organization. Scammers can make their calls look legit by spoofing caller IDs so that the incoming call appears to be coming from a company or government agency that you might recognize. In most instances, it means the caller will have a similar area code or even the same first three digits as your phone number. This is a big red flag, and ignoring that call and voicemail is best. Be on the lookout for scammers using voice impersonation. With the rise of AI technology, some callers can even generate a voice track of a person you may know from a TV show or some other part of your life. They may even reference details available from a quick Google search to further convince you of their identity. For instance, they might claim they are a childhood friend with whom you may have lost contact and will provide specific details that may incite you to further believe them. Microsoft states that their new text-to-speech AI model, called Vall-E, only needs three seconds of a person's voice in order to emulate it. Pretty scary, right? That's why it's best to move at a snail's pace and refrain from any action until you can verify the information that's being provided to you, preferably from a different source. Verify the caller's identity. It's also essential to verify the caller's identity. If something seems fishy, hang up and contact the organization directly using a phone number you know is legit, like one from their official website or your account statement. Don't share sensitive information. When it comes to providing sensitive information, don't do it. Real organizations usually won't ask for personal details like Social Security numbers, bank accounts or passwords over the phone. So, keep that kind of info private from unsolicited callers. Even if the caller claims to be someone you know, if the situation's circumstances are even a tad fishy, it is best to hold off on providing any personal information. Watch out for pressure tactics. Scammers love to make you feel rushed, hoping you'll make a quick decision without thinking. Stay calm and take the time to check out the caller's claims before doing anything. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Don't let your emotions get the best of you, whether it's an adrenaline rush because someone just called and told you that you won the lotto or it's a rush of fear flowing down your spine because the IRS called and claimed you owe them an arm and a leg. In either situation, you may feel pressured to act. It is best to wait and investigate the matter a bit further. Plus, the IRS would never call you.

Moving on to another type of scam, a modern online dating scam unfolds with love, lies, and cryptocurrency. Let's face it - online dating has always been a bit of a circus. Between ghosting, catfishing, and breadcrumbing, it's a wonder anyone finds romance at all. It's safe to say online dating is a downright chore these days. Remember those cringe-worthy dinner dates where you dropped a hundred bucks only to realize you'd never see the person again? Yeah, that was bad. But now there's a new threat in town that makes those expensive meals feel like chump change. This isn't your run-of-the-mill "send me a gift card" hustle. We're talking about crypto-romance scams, a cruel blend of heartstrings and purse strings, served with a side of bitter cryptocurrency regret. So, who's behind these horrible scams you ask? They're usually run by criminal gangs in Asia in what's known as a "pig butchering" scam.

Take, for instance, the case of a hapless Floridian who found himself caught in this new digital web. Using OkCupid, a popular online dating platform, he met what he thought was a potential romantic interest. As their relationship blossomed, she asked for some help in the form of Bitcoin, to be sent via Binance, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges. Smitten and unsuspecting, the man went through the hoops of buying Bitcoin, transferring it to Binance, and sending it to the woman he's started to care about. Only after the virtual coins had left his digital wallet did he realize he'd been duped out of $480,000. The woman he thought he was getting to know? Poof. Gone. All that's left is a heart heavier than his now-empty cryptocurrency wallet.

Let's dive a bit deeper into the mechanics of this crypto-romance scam and how an ordinary person can be scammed out of nearly half a million dollars. Building trust is the first step. The scammer starts by establishing a relationship online, often through a dating platform like OkCupid. They create a compelling, believable persona and engage in regular, friendly conversation with the victim, building an emotional connection over time. Once a.

/ Thursday, August 31, 2023, 8:00 PM /

themes:  Microsoft

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