Monday, May 10, 2010

It’s a scary world out in the World Wide Web

Here Are the Top 20 Shocking Scam Tricks:

  • Email scams: One in 304 emails that are sent to us contains a virus and one in 404 is a phishing message.

  • A scan of 22 million PCs by security firm Panda Labs in the second quarter of 2009 showed that just short of 12 million of them were infected. There's no way of knowing, but if the same proportion applies elsewhere, that means over half of PCs worldwide could be infected with viruses, Trojans, spyware and other malware. The biggest single category of infection is by banking Trojans and password stealers.

  • The most phished organizations (that is, those who were targeted or used in phishing scams) are, not surprisingly, banks and credit unions. But this year, according to a spam/scam study called Project Honeypot, the social networking site Facebook, currently in second slot behind J P Morgan Chase, is predicted to become the biggest single vehicle for phishing.

  • According to the Consumer Federation of America, one third of all adults have at some time been approached with scams (as distinct from, say, having their identity stolen). Lottery cons are the most common, followed by bogus grants and work-at-home schemes.

  • The typical victim of a lottery money scam loses around $3,000, usually for supposed tax, administration or Customs fees, while those who fall for advance fee scams lose, on average, up to $4,000. The average identity theft victim gets taken for $5,000.

  • Scammers profile their victims -- they know who makes the best target. For instance, a woman aged 70-plus is the most common target for a lottery scam, while a man in the 55-61 age range is the most common investment fraud victim. However, the age group that attracts the most scams is the 30-39 year olds.

  • Almost two-thirds of people incorrectly believe a check is valid if a bank pays out funds on it. (It's not, and if the check subsequently bounces, the account holder is responsible for repaying any money they withdrew.)

  • On average, 3,500 new sites harboring malware are set up every day. Online security experts McAfee reckon there are now more than 1.2 million different types of Internet malware.

  • Up to 45,000 people contact the Federal Trade Commission -- the US agency responsible for preventing and halting consumer fraud -- with complaints every week.

  • In 2008 -- the last year for which full records are available -- 275,000 Americans told the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center they had been scammed out of a total of $265 million. Non-delivery of merchandise and auction fraud accounted for 60% of this.

  • However, this is only the tip of an iceberg. 10 million people were said to be victims of identity theft, losing more than $48 billion -- yes, that's "billion" -- a year. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a total of 30 million Americans ages 18 and older, or 13.5% of the U.S. adult population, were victims of consumer fraud of one type or another during a one-year period.

  • Half of all identity thieves in a recent study came from a middleclass background, had a college education and an otherwise conventional lifestyle. Most of them had jobs and their main motivation was to buy luxuries. In other words, they're not all serial crooks or drug addicts.

  • More than 3,000 fraudulent IRS tax agency websites were taken offline by law enforcement action last year. And, in 2005, before Hurricane Katrina even made landfall, there were 200 phony Katrina aid websites. In a recent intervention, the Nigerian Government shut down 800 fraudulent sites.

  • 79% of all email in the US is spam. But the nation is only Number 7 in the spam league. Britain comes top with 94%, then China (90%), Hong Kong (89%), Australia (88%), Japan (86%), and Germany (83%). The Netherlands is 8th (78%) followed by Canada (77%).

  • China is the world's biggest spammer, accounting for more than 11% of messages, followed by Brazil, the US and Turkey. Most spams are sent out by compromised "zombie" PCs whose owners are unaware they are being used -- up to 400,000 zombie machines are activated every day. In the US, California is the most prolific state as a source of spam.

  • An estimated total of 125 trillion spam messages have been sent out in the past five years, says Project Honeypot. Monday is the busiest day for spam, and Saturday the least busy. 8am EST sees the highest volume during any day.

  • In a survey by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, one third of North American Internet users admitted they've replied to spam. The most common excuse is that they did it in error but some confessed either interest in the product or just wanting to see what happened.

  • An estimated 40% of Internet users enter the same password for every protected site they visit.

  • The scam ratio for work-at-home jobs posted online is 59:1. In other words, out of every 60 advertised jobs, only one is genuine.

  • Almost 200 million phone numbers are listed on the "do not call" register but last year alone more than 7 million people complained that telemarketers called them anyway. Arizona has, proportionate to the population, the highest level of complaints and Colorado has the highest proportion of registrations.
    To register or for more information, visit the Do Not Call site.

Not a pretty picture is it? But it's not all gloom and doom. Thousands of organizations, including Scambusters, official government agencies and crime fighting groups have joined the battle against online fraud.

Taken from ScamBusters,org Report Issue #375, 02-17-10