Mother’s Day scams dominated last week's list of top threats

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The ConsumerAffairs-Trend Micro Threat Alert found travel and survey scams are plentiful

With Mother’s Day close at hand, scammers have stepped up their schemes, using that holiday to steal consumers’ money and disappointing Mom in the process.

That, and a couple of other scams from the previous week continued to make strong showings in the ConsumerAffairs-Trend Micro Threat Alert for the week of May 5.

Mother’s Day Scam  

  • From April 17 to May 8, the Trend Micro research team detected 542,307 Mother’s Day-related shopping scams globally and 181,542 Mother’s Day-related shopping scams in the U.S., which increased by 5.46% compared to last week. Most of these scams use shopping discounts to attract users to purchase on fake shopping websites.  

  • The top 5 states being targeted are Oregon, Virginia, California, Washington, and Ohio 

  • The majority of victims are from Oregon: 44.17%   

It’s not a surprise that there was a big increase in this scam last week since scammers are running out of time to cash in. The way they are going about it is to offer incredible “last minute” deals on shopping sites.

That should be a dead giveaway, especially if it is a site you’ve never heard of. “Too good to be true” deals seldom are. Last-minute Mother’s Day shoppers should stick to familiar sites and pass up unreasonably low-priced items. 

After Sunday, expect to see a lot of these same come-ons recycled for Father’s Day.

Travel Scam  

  • From April 1st to May 1st, Trend Micro research team found 798 travel-related scam URLs, which increased 31% in comparison to last week. And Trend Micro research team did see a spike on May 2 and 4. Examples of notable brands are Airbnb and  

  • The top 5 states being targeted are Oregon, Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Illinois 

Travel scams also made a significant appearance in the previous week’s Threat Alert as well. Memorial Day weekend is coming up and travelers are making airline reservations for later in the summer. 

Rental scams are playing an outsized role, with the bad guys pretending to be Airbnb and, as well as other travel sites, often spreading through thousands of text messages.

“Trend Micro has been tracking more SMS scams targeting consumers in the past few months,” Jon Clay, vice president of Threat Intelligence at Trend Micro, told ConsumerAffairs. “In April this year, we identified over 800,000 SMS scams and Florida had over 32,000 targeting their citizens. Scammers are recognizing that SMS texts are an effective way to target victims with most scams using membership payment issues and politically focused topics being used to entice victims to interact.”

Amazon Phishing 

  • Trend Micro research team detected scammers using security issues to inform users their account has been suspended and redirecting them to verify their account on a fake log-in website with victims’ personal information. 

  • The top 5 states being targeted are North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, and Texas  

Amazon may be scammers’ number one company to impersonate. It should be no surprise since millions of Americans have Amazon accounts. 

Lately, the scams have revolved around asking people to fill out a survey. People often agree, flattered that someone wants their opinion. Scammers sweeten the deal by offering free merchandise.

But there is no free merchandise and no one ever sees the survey results. Instead, the scammers collect a lot of personal information that can be sold on the dark web.

Walmart Survey Scam  

  • Trend Micro’s research team identified scammers inviting customers to participate in a short survey to receive gift cards or free merchandise. Receivers are asked to fill in their PII in order to claim the ‘prize.’ 

  • The top 5 states being targeted are California, Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Washington 

Scammers are using the Amazon scam playbook to ensnare consumers with the Walmart survey scam. In fact, there is very little difference.

A report last month found that, in addition to Amazon, Walmart is the most imitated brand when it comes to separating consumers from their money. The report found that Walmart accounted for 16% of all scam attempts and climbed from 13th place in the fourth quarter of 2022, mostly due to an immense phishing campaign built around the come-on of a “supply chain collapse” that urged victims to click on a malicious survey link. 

ShareFile Email Phishing  

  • Trend Micro research team detected scammers impersonating the victim’s acquaintance to ask receivers to open the encrypted attachment. The scammers ask victims to click the HTML attachment and the page will then show a fake login page of ShareFile with various ways of fast log-in, such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc. However, all these login services are fake pages that will steal all the personal information you fill in.  

  • Trend Micro research team found 200 logs on May 4th. 

The sharefile email phishing scam rounds out the top five scams for the week of May 5 and is new to the list. It’s another impersonation scam and a dangerous one since the scammers are posing as someone the victim knows. They might be targeting you because they previously infected your acquaintance’s device and downloaded their contacts.

It’s another reminder that you should never click on a link in an email, even if you think it’s coming from a friend. Contact that friend directly first, to make sure the message is legit. It’s a sad fact that almost any message these days has to be viewed with some degree of skepticism.

“Scammers are mostly after personal information that can be used in future scams or sold to other criminals in the underground markets,” Clay said. “If you receive an SMS text from an unknown person and the interaction requests personal or financial information from you, it should be looked at as suspicious.”

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