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We’re hot on the trail of scammers again this week and we have a handful of schemes to warn you about. Some you might have encountered before but in recent days some have increased with greater frequency.
This week's ConsumerAffairs-Trend Micro Threat Alert details five dangerous scams that are victimizing consumers across the U.S., and some got a head start last week.
From April 1 to May 1, the Trend Micro research team detected 606 travel-related scam URLs. The growth is not as substantial compared to last week, but we expect it to continue to increase in the coming days/weeks. Examples of notable brands are Airbnb and Booking.com. Top 5 states being targeted the most (in order): Oregon / Virginia / Washington / Pennsylvania / Illinois.
As ConsumerAffairs reported in March, travel scams often rely on a garden variety of unsecured websites, social media ads, and frankly, some common sloppiness on the part of the consumer. With over 80% of U.S. adults booking vacations online, no one can be too careful, especially now when demand is high and availability is limited.
When using a search engine like Google to shop for a hotel deal, for example, don’t assume that the first listing on the page is the hotel’s actual website.
Mother’s Day Scam
From April 17 to May 1, the Trend Micro research team detected 336,028 Mother’s Day-related shopping scams globally. 105,311 were found in the US. Most of these scams use shopping discounts to attract users to purchase on fake shopping websites. Top 5 states being targeted the most (in order): Oregon / Virginia / California / Washington / Ohio.
“Another holiday means scammers will be preying upon people looking for shopping deals,” said Jon Clay, Trend Micro’s vice president of Threat Intelligence. “With Mother’s Day fast approaching, Trend Micro has already found over 300,000 shopping scam sites across the world in the last two weeks. Scammers look for those who want great deals this year for Mother’s Day, so consumers need to be vigilant in looking for these scams.”
Walmart Survey Scam
Trend Micro’s research team detected scammers inviting customers to participate in a short survey to receive gift cards or free merchandise. Receivers will need to fill in their personal identifying information (PII) in order to claim the ‘prize.’ Top 5 states being targeted the most (in order): Texas / California / Missouri/ Florida / Colorado.
The Walmart survey scam is growing hotter by the week. It goes without saying, there are no gift cards or other prizes for participating in the survey. The scammers are after information about you that they can sell on the dark web, or perhaps use to steal your identity.
Costco Survey Scam
This week Trend Micro’s research team identified scammers inviting customers to fill out surveys to redeem rewards up to $100 cash value. Receivers will need to fill in their PII for shipping information in order to receive the ‘prize.’ Top 5 states being targeted the most (in order): Washington / Ohio / Texas / Illinois / Missouri.
Scammers aren’t just focusing their attention on Walmart when it comes to survey scams. With the Costco survey scam, the method is the same but some of the details have been changed.
Last August scammers were promising consumers free refrigerators and ovens after completing a survey. No legitimate company would ever do that.
From April 28 to May 1, Trend Micro’s research team detected 13,293 logs of emails impersonating Tinder to inform the receiver of a potential match. However, clicking the button leads to a site that is not in English.
We’ve seen a lot of scams over the years but we have to admit this one is new to us. While most romance scams use more mainstream dating apps like Match, these operators may be going for a different type of victim.
It’s great that Trend Micro was able to trace the link to a non-English website so you know that it's a fake, because consumers should never click on links in spam emails. Lots of bad things can happen when you do, such as downloading malware onto your device.