Scam Alert: Photo Sharing Programs Are Being Used to Compromise Computers
Jackie here. Recently the FBI issued a warning about criminals using photo sharing sites to spread malicious software and commit fraud. The criminals are using online auction and sale sites to advertise vehicles or other items. They don’t include a picture with the listing and instead provide a link to see pictures in an online gallery or send a photo as an email attachment. The photo sharing sites or attached photos are actually a ploy to infect the victim’s computer.
Once the computer has been infected, the user is automatically directed to copycat sites that appear identical to the site they were using. The fake site is run entirely by the criminals, everything from customer support to recommended payment sources. Any money paid for the item through the recommended escrow service will be lost. The victim loses their money and never receives the merchandise.
Tips for Avoiding this Scam
If you do a lot of buying online, be on the lookout for this scam or similar ones. These tips will help you protect yourself:
- Bargain Prices Might Indicate a Problem– If someone is selling an item for much less than it is worth, it might be a scam. Be cautious of severely underpriced items, especially when shopping online.
- Protect Your Computer– Your computer needs anti-virus protection. Make sure you install a reputable program on your computer and that you regularly update both your anti-virus protection and your firewall.
- Only Click on Trusted Links– When someone emails you a link, be careful. In this scam the link to a photo sharing site can potentially infect your computer with malware, but scams use malicious links. Be very cautious when clicking on links in your email. In some cases it is safer to enter the desired web address yourself rather than following the link.
A picture’s worth a thousand words, but in the case of this scam a picture is worth your identity. Be careful when shopping online and remember if a potential seller is doing things that seem bit strange (like sending you to another site to see pictures) they might be involved in a scam of some sort.