Scams

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
fbi, greendot, irs, malware, money, moneypak, nsa, scams



Scammers Using FBI And NSA Logos, Claiming Legal Actions And Demanding Payment Via GreenDot MoneyPak

from the the-latest-iteration dept

A few weeks ago, I first heard about a scam in which scammers were calling up unsuspecting people, claiming to be the IRS and saying that the recipient had failed to pay taxes and was at risk of arrest if they didn't pay up quickly. The caller demands that the money be sent via a "GreenDot MoneyPak," which is basically the equivalent of cash. Scams like this have been going on for a while now -- just do a simple Google search on "scam, greendot" and you'll find a lot of results. Most recently, the scam has focused either on the IRS, as mentioned above, or local utilities, with threats about turning off your power, phone, etc. New York City even put out an alert directly warning about GreenDot MoneyPak scams.

However, it appears that the scammers have recently attempted to move on from just the IRS and utilities -- to two appealing alternative options: the NSA and the FBI. Lawyer David Gingras apparently spotted the FBI version upon visiting a website recently:
Apparently, at least some of these are appearing because of a virus that tries to make it look like the FBI locked up your computer. I particularly like the three reasons why your computer might have been locked up: First up is copyright infringement -- which does note "Article I, Section 8, Clause 8" (though later it says "Cause 8"), which is the Constitution's copyright clause, but here it's nonsensically described as "the Copyright of the Criminal Code of the United States of America," and then there's this, which is so obviously not written by someone fluent in English: "provides for a fine of two to five hundred minimal wages or a deprivation of liberty for two to eight years." Then there's the inevitable claim of child porn (though this calls it "child porno" and "article 202 of the Criminal Code"). You'd think for all the effort put into this, they'd at least look up the relevant laws. Finally, my favorite: they point out (somewhat accurately) that you might have malware on your computer, and then say, "thus you are violating the law on Neglectful Use of Personal Computer." Perhaps that's the most accurate, except that the fine here is paid for stupidity rather than any actual criminal violation.

Here's another version, using the DOJ's logo:
I find it vaguely amusing that all of these scammers highlight the store logos where you can conveniently buy a GreenDot MonkeyPak to help out with the scam.

Malwarebytes claims that it's seen one of these scams with the CIA logo as well. However, on Friday, the issue apparently became so serious that the NSA put out an announcement about the scam using its logo:
The NSA/CSS is aware of a computer malware scam using the NSA/CSS seals and banner. Victims of this malware report that a pop-up or a locked Internet browser alerts them that they have violated the law and/or are being monitored. The scam may also request that victims pay a fine. This activity and the associated alerts have no affiliation to the federal government, NSA included, and no money should be paid to the scammers. Victims should consult a computer professional on how to address the computer infection. Victims may also contact the Internet Crime and Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center that accepts Internet-related criminal complaints. For more information about malware, users can review the NIST Guide to Malware Incident Prevention and Handling.
Of course, it's no surprise that with all of the reports of NSA and FBI surveillance and abuse, that scammers would jump on the opportunity to make use of that fear in their efforts. That said, I would imagine that targeting the FBI -- which actually does investigate cybercrime -- might not be that wise of a decision for the scammers.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Sep 2014 @ 9:39am

    That said, I would imagine that targeting the FBI -- which actually does investigate cybercrime -- might not be that wise of a decision for the scammers.

    Now let us see if they actually know what they are doing, right? Or will they use this to champion their "let's grab it all" goal regarding online, warrantless surveillance?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 29 Sep 2014 @ 10:20am

    That said, I would imagine that targeting the FBI -- which actually does investigate cybercrime -- might not be that wise of a decision for the scammers.

    Unless the FBI designed the scam, provided the scammers with their equipment and the funding to get this going, and connected the scammers with a terrorist group, the FBI is not going to have any interest in it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2014 @ 10:30am

    If the NSA can't find and stop scammers...

    ...then why should we believe that they can find and stop terrorists?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2014 @ 11:21am

      Re: If the NSA can't find and stop scammers...

      The inconvenience of you losing your money is not their concern. Now if they could use it to usurp more of your rights in the name of protecting you then you would get your wish.

      Sorry the legal system is not designed to prevent or catch all criminals, its is only designed to make criminals out of people they don't like.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gracey (profile), 29 Sep 2014 @ 1:41pm

        Re: Re: If the NSA can't find and stop scammers...

        [quote]Sorry the legal system is not designed to prevent or catch all criminals, its is only designed to make criminals out of people they don't like.[/quote]

        Sure, but if I were the FBI, I think I'd go after these guys out of sheer spite, after all ... they're making the FBI look like fools.

        Oh wait ... too late for that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:39am

        Re: Re: If the NSA can't find and stop scammers...

        But but.. they keep claiming that scams fund terrorists, (when they want to increase their powers).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hoare (profile), 29 Sep 2014 @ 10:55am

    moneypak

    I have been removing moneypak virus for years now. 99% of the time its from porn sites (Personally I believe it to be 100% but some customers refuse to admit they were at a porn site). When I first saw it years ago it was only $50. The last one just a few days ago was $450.
    Besides the logos listed I have seen ICE and Homeland Security.
    Also ... On the DOJ screen cap, where it looks like there are 2 images, these will be pics of you taken with your webcam. Since you were on a porn site when the picture was taken .... what would you be doing?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      zaxk, 2 Oct 2014 @ 8:56am

      Re: moneypak

      sorry i have been infected with this virus. can you help me what i should do now? This virus have infected my phone. can you help me..thank you

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    etrimby (profile), 29 Sep 2014 @ 10:55am

    Old news.

    The first time I saw one of these was at least 5 years ago. Unfortunately the old guy that had been infected actually paid money out to the extortionists (don't remember what the payment method was) because he was scared/confused/gullible. I've seen it several times since, it's never too hard to clean up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 29 Sep 2014 @ 12:57pm

      Re: Old news.

      My dad just got scammed by the "relative in jail" scam which also uses GreenDot MoneyPaks. Someone needs to start a lawsuit against GreenDot MoneyPaks since the only use of them seems to be for criminal activity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2014 @ 11:14am

    Behold, the only time you'll see the FBI hunt fraud

    When it's done without Wall Street's blessing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DMNTD, 29 Sep 2014 @ 12:10pm

    Free market

    Everyone knows the government hates competition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2014 @ 12:28pm

    That said, I would imagine that targeting the FBI -- which actually does investigate cybercrime -- might not be that wise of a decision for the scammers.
    Mike, please don't lower yourself to the FBI's level. Call it "online crime", or "digital crime", or something. The only place the word "cybercrime" should be found is in poorly-written science fiction. (And poorly-written government press statements.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2014 @ 12:52pm

    Good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gwiz (profile), 29 Sep 2014 @ 1:13pm

    MonkeyPak ??

    The headline and one other place in the article calls it "GreenDot MonkeyPak".

    Is that a typo or is it a bit of humor that I don't get?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 29 Sep 2014 @ 1:58pm

    "adultpoliceweb.com - official site of the U.S. government, U.S. Department of Justice"

    LOL. Beautiful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nick (profile), 29 Sep 2014 @ 2:55pm

    I'd been hit by the FBI virus years ago. It brought up a full screen program that wouldn't let me access control panel or anything else. I got around it by figuring out that it took a few seconds to pop up when I changed users. That was enough time to bring up control panel and kill the process before it fully launched and locked it down again.

    Pretty old virus, actually. Funny how our government demands payment in untraceable money orders.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2014 @ 3:20pm

    Not the first time a government page was used

    Several years ago I got an email at work claiming failure to pay the required US taxes on what appeared to be the same page as the legitimate US Treasury payment site.

    I knew something was wrong because I'm not the one who makes these payments and my email address isn't the address used to make these payments.

    Checked the source code and found the hyperlink went to a "porn.com" subdirectory. I never found out if this was "porn.com"s doing or if they were hacked and was an unwitting host.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ruby, 29 Sep 2014 @ 6:53pm

    That's been around forever. I've actually gotten the damn thing twice. (It's a #^%@$ to remove too.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 2:02am

      Re:

      I still don't get how people actually contract computer viruses, I ran windows for years and never had a single infection (I have spent many years removing them from friends and families PCs though).

      I guess it depends what seedy websites you visit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sinsi (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 3:01am

    Another variation of the UKash scareware, over here it was the AFP after you. Even took a photo of you with the webcam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DH's Love Child (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 9:45pm

    "I would imagine that targeting the FBI -- which actually does investigate cybercrime -- might not be that wise of a decision for the scammers."

    I think you place far too much faith in the FBI.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Larry, 1 Oct 2014 @ 5:42am

    MoneyPak

    I hear that you can now buy MoneyPak cards online, is this true or is this a scam? Heres the url to the website:

    http://www.moneypak.cards

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 1 Oct 2014 @ 4:38pm

    Plausible Deniability to the rescue once again.

    hehehehe - I would bet dollars to donuts that this is just Division X of the NSA dirty tricks department, doing what they do best - robbing the public of its money.

    Easiest way to know if this is true, is if the scammers DO NOT GET CAUGHT, or if all news about them stops completely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sundar, 25 Feb 2015 @ 8:25pm

    Computer Virus

    If your computer is affected by virus,in order to save your personal information being hacked,first turn off the internet for the affected PC,bcoc most of the virus will be effective when you are connected to the internet
    try this and immediately contact computer experts

    http://tech365.in/virusremoval.html ">Virus Removal

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2015 @ 11:16am

    I just got the scam today but now it aske's to pay with pay pal and its $500 now it also charged me with some crimes and jail or prison time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    brenda, 6 May 2015 @ 11:53pm

    fbi locked my friends phone

    So a "friend" was watching porn, when all of a sudden an fbi page locked the phone, demanding for him to pay a fine of $500 thru paypal and to pay thru paypal he has to purchase a paypal card from some store that are listed there. Also it had like 4 pages of the fbi within.... couldnt turn off his phone or anything. And it said if it wasnt paid in 3 days he'd be charged as a criminal something like that. Anyways my main point is, is this real or is it a scam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    felicia, 6 Sep 2015 @ 2:45am

    worried mom

    I was on Facebook on my phone and someone tagged me something and I clicked on it to read about it and instead of being what I wanted to read it was kid pornography and was downloaded to my phone and then my phone was lock and and took a picture of me and got my email phone number and my contact and my text I was ask to pay 500 with a green dot card and if I don't they will contact everyone on my contact list is it a scam or should I worry I have 3 kids of my own and I will ever hurt my kids and I can't send people who would do things like that to little kids I am a scared mom.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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