Criminals are using photo sharing programs to compromise computers in a big way. Photo sharing…ridiculous! How? After all, how could a photo site be used to steal your identity? The FBI warns that criminals use online photo-sharing programs to perpetrate scams and harm victims’ computers. Think of it like a Trojan horse. These criminals advertise vehicles online but will not provide pictures in the advertisement. They will send photos on request. Sometimes the photo is a single file sent as an e-mail attachment, and sometimes the victim receives a link to an online photo gallery. The photos can and often contain malicious software that infects the victim’s computer, directing the user to fake websites that look nearly identical to the real sites where the original advertisement was seen. The cyber-criminals run all aspects of these fake websites, including “tech support” or “live chat support” and any “recommended” escrow services. After the victim agrees to purchase the item and makes the payment, the criminals stop responding to correspondence. The victims never receive any merchandise.
Think it cannot happen to you? I am former law enforcement. I own part of an ID theft protection company. If anyone should not be lured, well, it’s me? Right? Wrong. I recently went to purchase a car on Ebay. I’ve done it several times with no problem in the past. And what a deal did I find. Despite that little voice in the back of my head saying “It’s too good to be true” I plunged forward. And guess what, it was too good to be true. Fortunately I ran it through Ebay and asked a variety of questions. I demanded to see the car before I sent any money. Sure enough he disappeared and I found out he had hacked another user’s account to sell the car. But here I was emailing with the guy, about to take the next step. I seriously considered sending him money to reserve the car. But in my effort to practice what I preach I did not. These thieves are very crafty and quite persuasive. Lesson learned…again: Never send money by money gram, western union, or anything of the like to people you do not know. Don’t download their files. I hate to make you paranoid, but a little paranoia in a cyber-world is a good thing! Stay vigilant. Stay protected. It just helped me!