Cyber Crime and Community Alert

For the past thirty years or so in Community Alert, we focused our attention to physical risks, criminal and other’s. However, now, every home has a computer connected to the internet, every pocket and handbag contains a smartphone. Every community has evening and day courses available to introduce people to computers, especially the retired. 

Golden Rule – When you purchase a new computer install a top class anti-virus program immediately.                   

Because for some criminal’s a huge new opportunity with minimal personal risk has developed.   No need to break and enter, we are all on-line. Community Alert groups can and should help put a stop to this kind of fraud by learning about these swindles and discussing with others at local meetings about the risks and pitfalls of the internet. Therefore, at District and Local meetings highlight an item on Cyber Crime.

Money in the world today is electronic, less than 1pc of all the money in the world today is physical notes and coins. 99% of the money in the world is really just numbers on computers. Electronic cyber-crime is the future, it happens under our nose, it doesn’t crash our system but it is there to pick our pockets.

Frequently at Community Alert meeting I listen to people have received emails from phishers pretending to be from their bank, asking to confirm  bank details, why because Cyber thieves need our password in order to access our bank accounts and credit cards,

Even a scam email in Irish claiming to be from the Revenue Commissioners has been discovered, the fake messages claimed that, following a tax assessment for last year, the recipient was due a tax rebate. A link in the message directed the person to a site that appeared to be the Revenue Commissioners page, but was actually intended to trick people into giving away their banking details.

Golden Rule – Never EVER give any information about banking passwords.

We hear frequently of people being phoned by hackers who tell them a problem has been identified with their computer, and  try to extort cash in payment for “repairs” they then get them to download a virus, which opens the home’s computer up to all kinds of attacks.

Be-Alert also of fake, booking confirmation emails that cyber-criminals are sending out at random. The objective is to infect your computer with a Trojan that can gather logins, passwords and credit card details. 62% of Irish internet users book their holiday destinations and accommodation online, and Cyber-criminals appear to be capitalising onto this trend.

Booking a holiday and hotel online is perfectly safe and secure, cyber-criminals cannot easily break into that, so instead,

They are attempting to trick you into believing their spam email is a receipt for a booking you may have made. The spam emails are purely random but with so many booking holidays online at this time of year, the criminals have realised their spam will reach many people who have recently completed a legitimate holiday booking.”

Scam sites also use another tactic, designed to trick people into lowering their guard and clicking on a link or giving away passwords, by including Irish translations or appearing to be an Irish site. There is no guarantee that forwarding money will ensure delivery of the goods you order, from sites that are set up in China purporting to be Irish companies.                                                                                         

Golden Rule exercise great caution and care when meeting a person via internet dating services

Internet Scams Cyber Crime –

Ransomware is when rogue software code effectively holds a user’s computer hostage until a “ransom” fee is paid. In Ireland they purport to be an electronic FINE sent by An Garda Siochana Ransomware often infiltrates a PC as a computer worm or Trojan horse that takes advantage of open security vulnerabilities. Most Ransomware attacks are the result of clicking on an infected e-mail attachment or visiting a hacked website. Upon compromising a computer, Ransomware will typically either lock a user’s system or encrypt files on the computer and then demand payment before the system or files will be restored.

Advanced Fee Fraud People place an ad for something they are trying to sell or rent, and ask a price for the item. They receive a call, or an email, and then an offer to send a check for the item, or the deposit and initial rent. Shortly thereafter, they receive a cheque (generally from a company), or a bogus Bank Draft, for an amount far in excess than the amount agreed. If you ever run into this, rip up the cheque.

The second stage of this fraud is when the person receives an email requesting that the difference be refunded via a wire transfer. However, why send an excessive cheque, and why from a company? Because it has the appearance of being legitimate. Both Bank Drafts and a Company Cheque from the company that the scammer has mentioned that he or she works for, give a sense of secure excellence. The differences in the agreed amount of the deal versus the amount of the cheque are a huge red flag.

Another thing to pay attention to is the email itself. If it is full of bad grammar, poor spelling and has some inconsistencies in wording that should be a warning sign to you. Cyber Crime is an international fraud; and internet translation is not yet an accurate science. This swindle works on a percentage of people who by their nature are overly trusting of others.

Friend in Distress swindle

Facebook, has 1.6m Irish users and a third of Facebook users post information about planned holidays. This can put themselves and their friends at risk because cyber criminals may target the friend-lists of these holidaymakers, using their knowledge of the holiday destination to create fake emergencies such as claiming that they have just been robbed, in order to swindle money from these friends.

Email’s saying something like I was mugged in Lanzarote, please send me €500 to sort things out and get home”, with a request to transfer funds through untraceable Western Union.” Scams like this appear credible, and are occurring all the time, people fall for it and send ‘friend in distress’ money, then are shocked to find the friend was never mugged and knows nothing about it.  I personally have received these bogus emails purporting to come from people in Community Alert groups, who have my email address.      

Summary: Community Alert is about Safety and Security, whether crime related or otherwise.  Any proposal that focuses on community Safety and Security will be very carefully considered.                                            

Diarmuid Cronin. Community Alert Southern Region,

Development Office.

021- 7339 011