Locking the Cookie Jar

How to Protect Against Embezzlement, Identity Theft, and Hackers

General Resources (p.43)

Below are several additional general resources to supplement the material in the book.

Online Dating Scams


You think you've found the love of your life. Over the many weeks of your online courtship, they say all of the right things. They seem to understand you better than anyone else. Truly, your heart believes them and you do not doubt their sincerity. And by the time they need financial help, you want to help...

Here's how to avoid having your heart broken along with your bank account. It can also keep you out of Federal prison!

How to Recognize a Dating Scam Artist

  • Most scammers will quickly encourage you to leave the dating site and use personal email, messaging, phone calls (only if their language skills are good), or texting because they know their profile might get removed.
  • Their profile disappears after you have been chatting for a while. They might claim they removed it because they found you, but most scammers have many victims and chances are that someone has already reported their bogus profile account.
  • They quickly claim that they feel they can be open with you and that, well, they are in love.
  • They seem to like what you like and "guess" a lot about you. You might think this is because they are your soulmate, but they gathered a lot of info about you from your profile, Facebook, Twitter, and Google searches for your name. They already know a lot about you...it's their job.
  • Often they'll claim to be an American, but that they are currently traveling, temporarily working overseas, or are in the military.
  • Their written English is...well...just off a little. They don't use prepositions correctly or might reverse a few words in sentences.
  • They will plan a visit and you both will be so excited but shortly before the arrival date, some traumatic event (robbery, theft, serious accident) will occur or some business or investment deal will fall through and they are stuck.
  • If you don't offer help first, you will be gently pressured into offering it...and it will require money.

Common Monetary Asks Include

  • travel expenses,
  • medical emergencies,
  • help after a robbery, mugging, theft
  • hotel bills,
  • helping with an online purchase or forwarding a package to another country
  • hospital bills for their relative,
  • funds to get a visa or travel documents,
  • and legal fees to get out of a situation

When they ask you for money, they might go for some big dollars up front, especially if they think you are wealthy. They will have several stories and schemes that will keep drawing more and more money from you until you finally catch on that the relationship is all about money.

What? They Might Give Me Money?

In some cases, the goal is not to steal your money but have you help transfer theirs! It is very common for some scammers, who believe they own your heart, to eventually ask you to setup a new, joint bank account.

And what seals the deal is that THEY will deposit money into that account! This is, by far, the most convincing step they can take to prove their sincerity and trustworthiness. Many times they will start with a little bit of money and see if the you will wire the money to their "needy relative" from that account because the scammer's "situation" won't allow them to wire transfer from their location.

If you do this, then the scammer will deposit much larger amounts of money (thanks to their sudden "business success") and have you help them with their business by transferring the funds for "international business purposes," occasionally asking you to pull some money out for your own uses. How cool that you get to help your love with their business and you get paid for your time.

What is really happening is that the scammer is making you launder stolen money, move drug money or terrorist funds. When you get caught, which you will, the scammer can't be found. Heartbroken and sitting in a Federal prison is not good for the soul!

Who Are They and How Do They Do It?

Most of the time, the monetary scammers are from out of the country. Every now and then, someone bravely tries it from within the country but the risks are extremely high to them.

DO NOT TRUST anyone online that you do not truly know in person. And for God's sake, don't meet them in a private location!

Many of these scammers do not look like the images they shared with you. Sometimes they are not even the same sex as the images they share with you! Remember, their only purpose is to convince you to trust them so they can steal from you or get you to do something illegal for them.

To setup their cover, they usually steal the profile photos and other personal photos out of Google or off a real person's social media site (often Facebook), where they borrowed a lot of additional facts and information as well.

The smart scammers (an oxymoron) use a fake name and photos from a completely different person so you can't easily find the person with the stolen identity. They will tell you they don't use Facebook, etc. so you don't bother trying to check up on them. Sometimes they setup a fake Facebook profile with nothing much on it and they admit that they don't really use Facebook much. The scammer might portray himself as "Victor Thomas" and show you all kinds of handsome photos that belong to someone with a completely different name, but the real scammer might actually be a female working from a South African sweat shop that forces workers to setup these scams.

They also use phone numbers that have legit American area codes but are being rerouted anywhere in the world. They usually can't be traced but can sometimes get shut down. Their emails can be spoofed emails that appear to belong to legit companies but actually don't.

What You Can Do About It

When you suspect you might be talking to a scammer, don't give it away right away. They will disappear as soon as you call them out. Instead, guard your heart and gather information.

Because most of these scams originate from out of the country, there isn't much that can be done to bring the culprit to justice. If they are based in the U.S., there are very stiff penalties...which is why most of the scammers are foreign.

Remember that you are not the only victim. Most scammers have dozens and even hundreds of victims caught by their heartstrings. They only need a few to fall for them so they can collect the huge pay off.  Yes, it might feel embarrassing but you are only one of tens of thousands of victims. The authorities have dealt with MANY before you so please don't feel like you're foolish. It happens to many so be responsible and report the jerk!

If you aren't sure but are suspecting they're a scumbag, snag a copy of their profile photo and do an image search of that photo in your favorite search engine. It's a "reverse image lookup" and Google and many other search engines provide the feature. When you search for the image and you discover that the photo appears under multiple names, bingo! You're probably dealing with a scammer. If you don't find this, it doesn't mean it's not a scammer. It might mean they are more careful than most.

If they are truly operating out of a third world country, your dollars will help them live like a king. If they are using you to move stolen money or drug money, they are covering their tails by making you do the highly risky stuff...because it is. In this last case, YOU better contact the authorities immediately because you don't want them to come knock on your door first. Do NOT send or transfer any more money. You can make excuses to the scammer just as easily as they can make to you so stop doing the illegal things. Tell the scammer that you're sick, your computer is having issues, or you're on vacation.

You can help the next victim by reporting the person's dating site account to the operators of the site. Most have an option in a person's profile that allow you report the profile as a fake account.

 

Report this person to the FTC. Their website is http://ftc.gov/complaint — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams.


Phone Calls from Tech Support


You get a call from Apple Tech Support, Dell Tech Support, Microsoft Tech Support, etc. about a serious security risk on your computer. Sounds legit. All they want you to do is check a few things on your computer, what harm can that do?

 

How to Recognize a Phone Scam Artist

  • First of all, because they called you. Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Samsung, and every other major tech company does not call customers to tell them about security issues.
  • Although many tech support folks have accents, these scammers almost always have accents.
  • They don't know who you are. Be careful though because sometimes they have a phone list with names so they might know who you are. BUT, if they don't know who you are, then they are definitely a scammer!
  • If you are silly enough not to just hang up on them, they will soon be trying to get you to go to your computer and do something. In a Microsoft Windows scam, they have you check a setting in a configuration file and they'll tell you what's listed there (because it's listed in all configuration files). Then they will try to get you to change some settings, which will allow them to have backdoor access to your computer. In an Apple scam, they try to get you to download GoToAssist which is a legit way for trusted tech support folks to help you with your computer. But in this case, once you let them access your computer, you're toast. They can copy your data off your computer, copy anything onto your computer, reconfigure security settings so they can access your computer later, and more. Seriously, you are toast if you let them do this.

Example of a Scammer Call "from Apple"

Here's a call that keeps coming into our office. In fact, we had 13 calls in one day a while back.

"Molly" calls you "from Apple" with a recorded message about a serious security breach with our iCloud account and wants us to press "1" to get to Support Advisor. What a hoot but it's a safe guess that we have an iCloud account since anyone with an Apple phone has one. It just so happens our office does not have an iCloud account and this phone number is not attached to anyone with an iCloud account.

We notice that the number is coming from (310) 633-2670, a Los Angeles County number. Because the United States has extremely strict and painful laws about doing this type of scam, we are absolutely certain that the callers are sitting in a foreign country that doesn't cooperate with the United States and they are redirecting their calls through a local number. Eventually that number will get taken down and they'll start calling from another.

If you follow through with their request to open up a GoToAssist support screen like they will attempt to get you to do, they will be able to take over your computer, steal data from your computer, install software that will allow them to take over your computer later, install malware that they can control from the outside, and more.
DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! This is not how Apple support operates. 

What You Can Do About It

The easiest thing to do is delete the message or hang up. If you are bored and want to play around with them, see how long you can keep them on the line before they finally give up. At least that person won't be scamming your grandma while they are talking to you. When they ask you if your computer is on, tell them to hold on while you go turn it on. Then just set the phone down and go back to what you were doing.

Report this person to the FTC. Their website is http://ftc.gov/complaint — click on "Internet Services, Online Shopping, Computers," then select "Computers," then "Someone pretended to be associated with a company offering to remove a virus or malware from your computer"


Get the Book!

Locking the Cookie Jar is now available in printed book format and eBook format. It's easy to get your copy right now!

The Seminar

The Locking the Cookie Jar Seminar is both interesting and highly informative. It's designed for businesses to educate teams to avoid being the weak link for hackers to access sensitive company information or damage valuable data. The seminar can be customized for teams to focus more or less on embezzlement, identity theft, how hackers do their dirty deeds, how to protect against hackers, and how to create hacker-proof passwords that can be unique for each account and can be safely written down!

Resources & Blog

The book references online resources in multiple places throughout the book. You can access all of those resources here.

Incredible Numbers

%

Percent of Companies are Fraud Victims

According to the latest Annual Global Fraud Survey commissioned by Kroll Inc., 81 percent of firms were victims of frauds perpetrated by insiders. The costs are too high for firms of any size to ignore the threat and not invest in more means of defending the business from the inside.

%

Passwords are the Weak Link!

According to IT World Canada, "Just over 60% of breaches involved hacking, but that's not the big news:
81% per cent of hacking-related breaches leveraged stolen and/or weak passwords."

$

Average Loss per Company

 

According to the ACFE, the median loss caused by fraud was $145,000, with 22% of those cases reporting losses of at least $1 million. Identity theft and cybercrime—especially credit card abuse—were among some of the most common sources of fraud in small businesses. Unfortunately, however, it’s smaller companies with fewer than 100 employees that lose a median of $155,000 compared to $120,000 for larger businesses.

About the Book

Front Cover Locking the Cookie JarLearn how to protect yourself and your business against embezzlement, identity theft, and online hackers. Learn how the bad guys do it and how to avoid being a victim. Also learn a valuable hacker-proof password technique that is unique for each account and can even be safely written down! Includes sections on Embezzlement Schemes, Hacking the Hacker’s Mind, How Hackers Obtain Your Passwords, How to Create a Hacker-proof Password, and Identity Theft. Also includes other security techniques such as hardware deterrents, PINs, transposing digits, and explains how to report possible cybercrime and internet crime. It frankly lays out how cyber criminals do it and how your employees can embezzle from your company, so make sure you know what they know so you can stop it! It has great examples and humor as it turns complex subjects into something that is easy and fun to read.

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