Online Shoppers, Beware of a New Scam

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Beware of a New Scam Aimed at Bargain-Hunters

Trying to buy something cheap is absolutely natural--and online crooks set traps for unwitting bargain-hunters. On April 6 Panda Software warned Internet users of a new particularly brazen scam aimed at stealing confidential information. Several websites offering cheap airline tickets in fact weren't selling anything; the aim was to cheat users out of credit card details.

Of course, these sites have already been identified and disabled, but who knows whether (or better to say when) other ones will appear again, this time offering all kinds of products.

The scam is very simple; the thieves simply wait until some unsuspecting user who is searching for airline ticket offers, finds their site offering dirt-cheap airline tickets. Really pleased with himself and looking forward to the trip, the user fills in the form, entering his credit card number, expiry date and verification value (CVV).

As soon as these details have been entered, an error page appears; it tells the user that the transaction has been unsuccessful, and offers instructions on how to pay for the ticket by postal money order. So the user may well be fooled twice. He loses his credit card details, putting them right into the hands of cyber-crooks, and then loses money, if decides to buy the ticket by money order.

Luis Corrons, the director of PandaLabs, comments on this scam: "This kind of online fraud differs from those witnessed previously. The malicious user does not contact the person interested in buying the product, but it is actually the buyer, in searching for the best prices online, who goes to the fraudulent web page. This creates a false sense of security that can lead users to proceed with the transaction".

This makes such a scam very dangerous. It is the user who finds the "bargain"; no spam or pop-up ad is involved-- actually, nobody either forces or tries to persuade the user to buy something. This tactic is bound to be "effective", if such a word is appropriate here. That is why it is extremely likely that there will be other websites and other scams using the same pattern.

Too Cheap to be a Bargain? You'd Better Steer Clear

How to avoid this kind of fraud? "Users are best advised to treat 'bargains' with suspicion, and only make online purchases from trusted sites. In any event, if in doubt, it is a good idea to search for information about the website in question on the Internet. Users should be able to find opinions and experiences of other users who have used the same service," says Luis Corrons.

That's all users can do so far -- to steer clear of suspicious bargains and to check the firm one is going to buy from. Of course, the authorities are informed; these cybercriminals will be tracked, caught and sent to jail.

But this entire story gives a strong impression that cybercrooks are becoming more and more shameless. People get cheated when they expect it the least -- just remember bogus appeals to make donations for tsunami victims.

Such criminals are impudently taking advantage over majority of people -- over those who remember the Golden rule and expect others to behave the same way. That is why everybody who either falls the victim of this --or any other--scam, or learns about such incidents, should make this information public. This will be a small contribution that may help to curb growing cybercrime.

Alexandra Gamanenko currently works at Raytown Corporation, LLC -- an independent software developing company that provides various solutions for information security.

Learn more -- visit the company's website

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