- Spoof messages on Skype and fake news sites!
SADLY we live in
a world where "scam artists" and dishonest companies are
increasingly using hidden tricks to fool you into fraudulent deals.
This week we
have had a run of fake messages on Skype being reported to us and we have also
had them. This latest issue has seen a large number of accounts on the popular Skype
system suddenly posting links to a page on Baidu, "China's Google."
This page then pointed to a fake news website, which was meant to be 'Forbes' an
American business magazine.
After getting a few of these message ourselves
a host of reports from other users accounts, we did some checking and have found
that this latest SPAM has been taking pace worldwide. So we contacted the
Microsoft's UK Office and also Forbes to alert them and also to find out more
about this issue... We have since had a reply today from
Microsoft. A spokesperson for the firm told us that:- "Some Skype
customers have reported their accounts being used to send spam. There is no
breach of Skype security; instead we believe criminals are using username and
password combinations obtained illegally to see if they exist on Skype. We
continue to take steps to harden the login process and recommend customers
update their Skype account to a Microsoft
account in order to benefit from added
protections such as 2 factor authentication. We also strongly recommend
customers create username and strong password combinations for their Microsoft
account and do not use them on other sites or services. Password assistance is
Spoof media sites or parodies of 'real' news websites are now
getting very common, often being used as ways to promote propaganda and/or trick
people in some way. These sites often result in fraudulent activities... So
always check to see if a news page is a real news page and not a site pretending
to be a news website or someone else, even when using Google to find a report!
In this latest SPAM, the "scam" works in 3 steps:-
1. Give you a fake message from a legitimate contact thank makes you click on a
2. Trick you into thinking that they are legitimate news websites, in order to
add a placement of a hidden illegal activity that will leave you open to your
computer and/or systems being infected with malware, phishing, fraud, scam
and/or spam activity.
3. The last step is the final part of the con that activates the hidden illegal
activity... Often this sees the news item tricking users to do something, as it
must be a genuine website a media organization would point to! This can be done
in a wide range of ever changing methods, from click on now adverts to berried
links and more.
ALWAYS CHECK LINKS even if from known
people. Plus if it looks out of place, follow the rule... If it quacks like a
duck, walks like a duck and swims like a duck, it is a duck isn't it? Never take
things at face value online!
If a friends profile has been hacked, tell them via an alternative method of
contact! Also if 1 form of communication has been affected, other might also be
affected, so keep an eye on communications from that user...!
Don't use easy passwords on your accounts and change them from time to time...
Plus never use the same password on all your accounts!
The con in more detail...
1. First is that it comes from a legitimate contact, be that on Skype, Text, or
Email etc... So you tend to not look and just click on...
2. This step involves uses a legitimate company's name, website style and
layout. etc, and in some cases a very close looking website address. This is
designed to trick people into thinking nothing is wrong. Sadly most people do
not check links as closely as you might think, especially if sent via someone's
account you known. It often appears to be a legitimate website as well, so you
trust it. The news report might also be a real one that has been altered or
adapted in some way... You do not think is suspicious as the report its self
also acts a distraction as well. This adds to the effect as you tend read the
report and not look at the rest of the site or other details. If it's a Bank or
other think like a shop, you might smell a rat. Also you might look closer at
the site... But who plays attention to a news website?
3. The 'article' has some interesting material on it... Often it
looks legitimate and sounds ok at a glance. Often, like in this case using
people and situations which are not directly connected or involved with that
fake material. But who looks close at the news?
4. The next step is relying on the manipulation your 'impulse' to
buying or react. This might be for sympathy or wanting to help, but could also
be the will to get a good deal... Frequently these sites are linked to multiple
forms of scams, not just 1. The fake site gets the reader to react to something
that is suggested buy it. For example the wording in the report might make you
want to react to an advert that conveniently pops up. It might be after visiting
the site as well, using delayed display codes! In some cases it can be a real
legitimate report, just with the links changed, but it ends the same way. So
beware of the conveniently placed charity advert, buy now limited time offer
that read:- 'Amazing one time offer' for the product you have been
reading about. A few times we have seen them offering fake prize draws and
warnings about computer viruses, that read:- "down load this link to stop
you getting it..."
Remember that these fake sites don't just do direct attacks, as they can often
do it in other ways via placing, without you knowing, malware on your computer.
Also you might find your browser has been hijacked etc.
All the illegally obtained material on these sites can and do leave you open to
other activities include:- money laundering, billing schemes, fictitious service
schemes, bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion, and other more....
particular individual or individuals' who conduct these crimes are cross boarder
and thus, leaving no paper trail for the authorities to trace them or stop
In the UK and US this website offers fantastic help to keep safe
Please do let us know if you have been affected by this or any other similar
issues, involving fake news websites via emailing us to:-