Written by: Jay H.
Scammers successfully steal $80 million per month through fake giveaways and surveys, a new report from Group-IB finds. Fraudsters targeting victims in over 90 countries worldwide, including Canada, the United States, Italy, and South Korea, impersonate popular brands to steal users’ personal and payment data. An estimated 10 million people are victims of a single scam network and the potential damage totals about $80 million per month.
These fraudsters rely on personalized scams to trick users into falling victim. They typically invite users to participate in a survey, after which the user would supposedly receive a prize. Then, the scammers send the victims through a long chain of redirects, collecting personal information about their session, including country, time zone, language, IP, and browser. The final page is then tailored according to the personal information gathered, with scammers trying to make the bait as enticing as possible for their victims. Each final scam link is specifically customized for the user and can only be opened once, making tracking these scams difficult.
To “claim” the prize, the user must answer questions asking for their personal data, including full name, email, postal address, phone number, and credit card information, including expiration date and CVV.
Unsurprisingly, the scammers then take advantage of the victim’s provided personal information. Cybercriminals commonly use the stolen data to buy goods online, open fake accounts, or sell the information on the dark web. Sometimes, they may even ask the victim to pay a tax or test payment before they can “receive” the prize.
Global Scam Coverage
According to analysts, this scam impacts 91 countries, with scammers impersonating at least 121 brands. Among the regions most targeted include Europe (36.3%), Africa (24.2%), and Asia (23.1%). As for which type of companies scammers exploited, schemers mostly impersonated telecommunications companies, consisting of more than 50 percent of the schemes, followed by e-commerce and retail.
Be Scam Aware
Scams can be devastating for their victims. Luckily, there are precautions you can take to avoid falling for scams.
Always check that the email account and links actually come from the official domain of the brand. You should also be able to find details of any giveaways or prizes on the brand’s official channels, including their website or social media. You can also view our blog post about how to spot a phishing email for more tips on staying safe when navigating your email inbox.
If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam email, you should contact your financial institutions and the police and report the scam to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
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