Info@NationalCyberSecurity
Info@NationalCyberSecurity

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Scam operation uses reputable organization’s credibility for elaborate identity theft and online fraud scheme

The MB Technews team has unearthed a sophisticated scam operation targeting Facebook users by exploiting the credibility of reputable organizations in the Philippines, like the Manila Bulletin. The scam involves the sale of merchandise at unusually low prices, a strategy designed to entice unsuspecting victims.

Always verify a Facebook page before engaging: Look for the official verification tick, scrutinize the follower count, and assess the quality of past posts. Remember, scam pages often show telltale signs like inconsistencies and lack of official verification.  The scammer’s page shown here has only one like and one follower.

 

We found out about the scam when a concerned FB user forwarded the link to the team. Upon investigation, we discovered that the scams are orchestrated through fake Facebook pages, cunningly designed to mimic the official Manila Bulletin FB page. The malicious pages advertise rings at amazingly low prices, capturing the attention of potential buyers. The scam unfolds as users, lured by these attractive offers, are redirected from these fake Facebook pages to an external shopping site.

Stay vigilant online! Always verify a Facebook page before engaging. This is the official FB page of the Manila Bulletin.

Initially appearing legitimate, this external site is a front for illicit activities. The team noticed that the site predominantly uses Vietnamese language settings, with HTML language attributes set to “vi” (the country code of Vietnam is VN, but the HTML language is vi), suggesting the potential origin of this scam.

The scam’s primary danger lies in its collection of sensitive personal and payment information under the guise of a legitimate transaction. While the initial costs seem minimal, scammers can use the information obtained for unauthorized charges or even identity theft.

Online shoppers need to be careful with this type of scam; leveraging the trust associated with reputable organizations like the Manila Bulletin is especially dangerous. We advise the public to exercise extreme caution when encountering such offers on social media platforms. 

We suggest that internet users follow these recommendations to be safe from online scams:

Verify official pages: Always check the legitimacy of a Facebook page. Look for verification ticks, the number of followers, and the quality of past posts. Scam pages often have inconsistencies and lack the official verification mark.

Be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers: Extremely low prices or offers that seem too good to be true are often bait scammers use to lure victims.

Check the URL: Before entering any personal information, always check the website URL. It should match the official site of the organization it claims to represent. Be wary of foreign language settings that do not align with the supposed origin of the site.

Protect your personal information: Never hastily provide personal or financial information online. Always think twice before filling out website forms, especially those linked to your social media accounts and e-wallets.

Use secure payment methods: Use secure and well-known payment methods when shopping online. Avoid direct bank transfers or providing credit card details on unfamiliar sites. I use Maya for my online purchases.

Report suspicious pages: If you encounter a fake page or a scam, report it immediately to Facebook and warn your friends and family.

Keep software updated: Ensure your devices are equipped with the latest security software, and keep them updated to protect against malware and phishing attempts.

Educate yourself: Regularly educate yourself and your family about the latest online scams and how they operate.

The public must remain vigilant and report such fraudulent activities to the Inter-Agency Response Center (I-ARC) hotline 1326 and to Facebook for prompt action.

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