Online scams based around social media and virtual currencies are on the rise, according to the FBI's annual report highlighting the Internet fraud complaints the agency receives.
In 2014, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 269,422 complaints reporting an adjusted dollar loss of $800,492,0731 in losses.
Twelve percent of complaints involved a social media aspect, according to the report.
“The increased use of social media has provided a quintessential goldmine of personal data for perpetrators,” the report's authors wrote. “More victims are submitting complaints documenting how social media was utilized to perpetrate frauds, or indicating the perpetrator initiated a relationship through social engineering.”
Common social media fraud methods include:
- Click-jacking – Concealing hyperlinks beneath legitimate clickable content which, when clicked, causes a user to unknowingly perform actions, such as downloading malware, or sending personal information to a website. Numerous click-jacking scams have employed “Like” and “Share” buttons on social networking websites. Research other ways to use your browser options to maximize security.
- Doxing – Publicly releasing a person's identifying information online without authorization. Caution should be exercised by users when sharing or posting information about themselves, family, and friends.
- Pharming – Redirecting users from legitimate websites to fraudulent ones for the purpose of extracting confidential data. Type in an official website, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited source.
The emerging popularity of virtual currency, also known as crypto-currency, like Bitcoin, Litecoin and Peercoin has also increasing numbers of scammers, according to the report.
“As this type of currency becomes more popular, criminals have comprised new ways of capitalizing on this market, bilking millions of dollars from victims around the globe.”
Popular virtual currency scams highlighted in the report include:
- Victims not receiving their crypto-currency mining equipment or mining contracts after they paid for them. Crypto-Currency mining is the process of producing crypto or virtual currencies using computers. Computers are used to solve mathematical equations, generating crypto-coins.
- Victims sending high performance computers to crypto-mining datacenters to join others in a mining pool, only to be scammed by the operators. The losses included damages to computers during transit, receiving little or no crypto-coins from joining the datacenter pool, or having their computer stolen.
- Other victims have reported hacking of their virtual wallets, and then being blackmailed to get their money back.
Read the full report HERE.