Fake Email Bills Newest Bane of Net Users

Forged bills delivered by email often carrying computer viruses are the newest bane of Internet users.


Forged bills delivered by email often carrying computer viruses are the newest bane of Internet users.

"Cyber-thieves tricks are becoming more and more refined. These fakes can sometimes be incredibly hard to spot," says Matthias Gaertner of the Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BSI) in Bonn.

Where bogus emails were once easy to spot thanks to misspellings and other errors, today's recipients are finding them much harder to spot.

The latest threat is an email bill purportedly from Internet provider 1&1. The email states that a fee of more than 100 euros is about to be deducted from the recipient's bank account. Gaertner warns that if the recipient opens the attached bill, a program disguised as a PDF file pops open, installing harmful programs on the hard drive.

To make their forgeries look perfect, con artists don't just copy the company logo. They also provide toll-free numbers that are almost the same as the company's real hotlines.

Fake Internet addresses are also provided for those seeking more information.

Recipients should never click on these links, since they often lead to viruses too.

"It's all an age-old scam," says Gaertner. "The whole process relies on a simple psychological trick: the con artists rely on the recipient's curiosity."

Thieves might try to plunder an Internet user's bank account, if they can use a phishing program to get their banking information or they might use other programs to hijack another computer. They can sell access to the hijacked computer power to criminals.

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