Have you thought about buying something online from someone you didn’t know? On May 30, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3 – ic3.gov) released an alert warning about these online sales. Scammers are now using these opportunities to pass malware in email attachments and photos. Many people may not be aware that online photos can contain viruses and other executable code. “Buyer beware” has taken on an entirely new meaning.
Cyber criminals are now embedding malware into the photos they send. In a typical scenario, a “seller” advertises something online. This could be a high-value item offered at a steep discount, perhaps even a vehicle. The criminal will offer to send pictures on request. According to the FBI alert, the photo may be a single file sent as an e-mail attachment or a link to an online photo gallery.
The scammer might also operate a fake website that is nearly identical to the real site where you originally saw the advertisement. The fake website includes everything from tech support to live chat support and may also recommend escrow services. If you purchase the item and make payment, the scammer will no longer respond to your inquiries, including the question of “where’s my stuff?”
Here are three quick tips to make online shopping safer:
- If a seller contacts you and says that the original bidder fell through, be especially cautious.
- Make sure websites are secure and authenticated before you purchase an item online. It’s best to go directly to a known company’s website and navigate from there rather than following a provided link.
- Always use a reputable payment service.
In addition to his columns on usedview.com, Terry Ambrose (terryambrose.com) also writes mysteries and suspense. In a review of his latest novel, the San Francisco Book Review said, “On all levels License to Lie justifiably earned this five star rating!”