Threat Alert: The summer of scams


ConsumerAffairs and Trend Micro identify the most common scams of the season

Scammers have had a busy summer, ripping off unsuspecting consumers with some schemes that are new and others that have worked for years. The ConsumerAffairs-Trend Micro Threat Alert has documented scams that have targeted travelers, shoppers and people expecting a package delivery.

Between July 1 and August 25 this year, the Trend Micro research team detected 9,467,220 scam-related URLs in the US. That’s an increase of 5.94% compared to 2022.  

Jon Clay, vice president of Threat Intelligence at Trend Micro, says the three most common scams impersonate Walmart, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and United Parcel Service (UPS).

“Consumers should beware of unsolicited emails or texts pertaining to these three organizations with messages purporting to have won gift cards, or they owe underpaid fees on deliveries or other requests for their personal information or money,” Clay told ConsumerAffairs.

In the most common Walmart scam, victims are invited to provide their email address to verify whether they won a $500 Walmart eGift card. 

In addition to USPS and UPS, scammers are impersonating DHL, another delivery service.  Targets receive an email asking them to pay underpaid fees for their packages with a credit card authorization form attached. Trend Micro detected 273 logs on August 24. 

iPhone Scam 

  • Trend Micro's research team identified scammers informing victims that they got a free iPhone 14 Pro and asked victims to provide their personal and credit card information. 

  • The top five states being targeted are Texas, Missouri, California, Illinois and Tennessee. 

Back to School Related Scam 

Naturally, with summer wrapping up and school starting up again there have been plenty of scams targeting parents and students getting ready for the new school year. 

Between July 1 and August 27, the Trend Micro research team found 179,646 back-to-school shopping-related scam URLs, which increased by 14.3% compared to the past seven days. Trend Micro detected a 67.58% increase year over year. 

These scams often take the form of fake shopping sites. Parents place orders for school supplies and clothing. The scammers charge their credit cards and then disappear.

Travel Scam 

  • Between April 1-August 27, the Trend Micro research team found 2,935 travel-related scam URLs, which increased by 5.2% compared to past weeks.  

  • Trend Micro identified two fake Airbnb pages, with over one-third of the victims are from Oregon (30.87%). 

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

Travel scams have been plentiful because so many Americans have traveled this summer. In addition to fake short-term rental listings, travelers have been victimized by fake airline customer service telephone numbers.  

BMW scams 

  • Trend Micro's research team identified scammers impersonating the BMW automobile company to inform email receivers that they were selected as the ‘prize winner’ of a balloting program in the US for a brand new 2023 BMW 7 series car. If victims would like to declare the prize, they need to reply to the mail with personal information such as name, phone number address, etc. Trend Micro research team detected 106 logs on August 28. 

This is an old song with new lyrics. Scammers have been tempting consumers forever with the promise of a new iPhone or television set. But a BMW?

This is a classic example of “if it’s too good to be true, then it’s a scam.”

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