Threat Alert: Beware of that exotic, overseas investment opportunity

Scammers are also impersonating shipping companies

In the United States, we’re accustomed to phony investment scams coming from within our borders. But increasingly, Americans are being tempted by foreign investment “opportunities” that may sound enticing.

Maybe because the investment seems exotic, or maybe it promises huge returns, this week’s ConsumerAffairs-Trend Micro Threat Alert finds overseas investment scams are targeting more Americans.

Investment Scam 

  • We saw this scam case last week. Trend Micro’s research team identified scammers impersonating a Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Nature Resource representative, inviting email victims to invest in a fake fund. However, Trend Micro did not detect a significant increase since identifying the scam last week.  

  • Trend Micro detected 24,982 logs from July 25-August 1. 

“This is common to use impersonations to build trust that the investment is legitimate,” Jon Clay, vice president of Threat Intelligence at Trend Micro, told ConsumerAffairs. “Consumers should be wary of unsolicited emails or texts for investment opportunities and should investigate the opportunity before taking action."

 UPS Shipping Scam 

  • Trend Micro's research team identified scammers impersonating UPS, asking customers for their personal information such as name, address, phone number, and credit card authorization to reschedule their parcel. 

  • The top five states being targeted are Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and California. 

There are several UPS Shipping scams but one of the more recent ones tries to make you think you’ve missed a package delivery and have to pay a fee to reschedule it.  

The tip-off that it’s a scam is that you are asked to pay through a portal that is not part of UPS. And yes, you might even be asked to pay with gift cards.

DHL Phishing 

  • Trend Micro identified a scam, a type of phishing email impersonating DHL, where scammers asked the receivers to check the delivery status and make the payment via fake DHL pages.  

  • Trend Micro detected 264 logs on August 1.

UPS is not the only delivery service scammers are using. DHL is being used in exactly the same kind of ruse.

“In most cases the communications concern the sale of consumer goods over the internet where payment may be requested before the goods are delivered,” the company warns on its website. “Please be advised that DHL does not request payment in this manner. DHL only collects money due for official DHL-related shipping expenses.”

Fake AVG Scam 

  • Trend Micro's research team identified a fake alert SMS message from scammers pretending to be AVG, informing iPhone users that their phone is at risk for viruses and other malware. The scammers lure a 75% discount as bait to prompt victims to renew their anti-virus protection in order to get access to credit card information. 

  • The top five states being targeted are California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois and Arizona.

AVG advises consumers to only contact AVG Support through the official support website. In other words, don’t click on links in a text.

The offer of a 75% discount is another dead giveaway. Companies go broke by offering discounts that large.

Travel Scam  

  • Between April 1-July 30, the Trend Micro research team identified 2,244 travel-related scam URLs, which increased by 9.8% compared to the past weeks.  

  • Trend Micro found three fake pages, with over one-third of the victims from Oregon (32.68%). 

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

The lasting power of travel scams should be no surprise this summer because of the massive number of trips consumers are taking.

International travelers have to be extra careful. They may be in a strange land and be unfamiliar with local laws and customs. Many overseas scammers specifically target American travelers, expecting a bigger payoff.

Email System-Related Phishing 

  • Trend Micro’s research team found a phishing email showing victims that they received several emails identified as spam. To access those spam emails, they are prompted to log in with their personal information/account information to access these emails.  

  • Trend Micro detected 3,634 logs on July 31. 

This begs the question of why anyone would want to read their spam emails. But apparently, some people do. Just don’t give anyone your login credentials to do so.

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