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TikTok prank based on real fraud scheme: How cybercriminals convince victims to call them

July 18, 2022 2:17 p.m.

On TikTok, a prank where people call their friends using an automated answering machine voice to tell them that a large amount of money is about to be debited from their account is gaining popularity. Kaspersky experts warn that this trend is a real fraud scheme, called vishing, and is actively used by cybercriminals. 

Kaspersky researchers detected an increase in the number of vishing emails in June (almost 100,000 total) and collected approximately 350,000 vishing emails between March and June 2022. They also explained how vishing works and how to avoid falling into this trap of cybercriminals.

Vishing (short for voice phishing) is the fraudulent practice of convincing individuals to call cybercriminals and reveal personal information and bank details over the phone. Like most phishing schemes, it starts with an unusual e-mail from a large online store or a payment system. For example, it could be a letter from a fake version of PayPal telling you that they have just received a request to withdraw a large amount of money from your account. 

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Fake notification from PayPal about a purchase for a large amount of money

But here’s the difference: while regular phishing emails ask the victim to follow a link to cancel the order, vishing emails ask that they urgently call the customer support number provided in the email.

Kaspersky experts emphasize that this method was intentionally chosen by cybercriminals because when people look at a phishing site, they have the time to think about their actions or notice signs that the page is not legitimate. But when victims talk on the phone, they are usually distracted and find it more difficult to focus. 

Under these circumstances, attackers do everything they can to further throw them off balance: rushing them, intimidating them, and demanding that they urgently provide their credit card details to cancel the supposed fraudulent transaction. After gaining the victim’s bank account details, cybercriminals use the information to steal their money, leaving the victim with an empty wallet.

Kaspersky experts highlight that in the last four months (from March to June 2022) they have detected almost 350,000 vishing emails, asking victims to call in and cancel a transaction. In June, the number of such emails increased, reaching nearly 100,000, leading Kaspersky researchers to predict that this trend is only gaining momentum and is likely to continue growing.

Number of detected emails with vishing, March — June 2022

Curiously, TikTokers actively repeat one of the vishing schemes, with the only difference being that they do not send a fraudulent email in advance, nor do they steal anything from their victims – their goal is a show, not money. 

The call is conducted through an answering machine, whose voice is generated with an online translator. Most often, pranksters introduce themselves as a representative from the customer service department of a large online store, claiming they have just received an order from the victim for several thousand dollars and asking for their confirmation. No matter how the victim replies, the next thing the answering machine says is, “Thank you, your order has been confirmed.” People think the answering machine misheard them and that the funds are going to be withdrawn from their account immediately, so they panic, scream, and don’t realize that they are being pranked.

When people are convinced to disclose their personal data during a phone call rather than on a phishing page, they often don’t have the chance to consider that they are the target of a hoax – and a large number of TikTok videos with this prank are a prominent example of this.

“I often come across videos on TikTok of bloggers pranking other people by calling them and telling them that their account is about to be debited thousands of dollars. The victims believe it and go crazy over it. When you look at these videos on your phone you think, “How can anyone fall for such a thing?” But when people encounter scam calls in real life, they are often affected by multiple circumstances at the same time. Such a call can catch them off guard, while their head is full of other things and they can’t clearly assess who is on the other end of the call – a prankster, a fraudster or a real bank security specialist,” comments Roman Dedenok, security expert at Kaspersky.

Read about other popular methods of email fraud in the full report on Securelist.

To protect yourself from vishing, Kaspersky recommends:

  • Checking the sender’s address. Most spam emails come from addresses that don’t make sense or appear as gibberish, for example, amazondeals@tX94002222aitx2.com or something similar. By hovering over the sender’s name, which itself may be spelled incorrectly, you can see the full email address. If you’re not sure if an email address is legitimate or not, you can put it into a search engine to check.
  • Considering what kind of information is being requested. Legitimate companies don’t contact you out of the blue via unsolicited emails to ask you for personal information, such as banking or credit card details, your Social Security number or other sensitive data. In general, unsolicited messages telling you to “verify account details” or “update your account information” should be treated with caution.
  • Being wary if the message is creating a sense of urgency. Spammers often try to apply pressure by using this tactic. For example, the subject line may contain words like “urgent” or “immediate action required” to pressure you into acting.
  • Checking for grammar and spelling is an effective way to identify a scammer. Typos and bad grammar are red flags. So too are odd phrasing or unusual syntax, which might result from the email being translated back and forth through translators several times.
  • Installing a trusted security solution and following its recommendations. The secure solution will then solve most problems automatically and alert you if necessary.

NEWS

Australian delegates visit Clark

August 18, 2022 7:23 p.m.

CLARK FREEPORT – As part of their business mission in the Philippines, a delegation from Australia composed of industry leaders on various business sectors recently visited this Freeport to explore potential trade, tourism, and investment opportunities.

In a simple activity held at the New Clark City (NCC) on Wednesday, the delegates were given presentations on the current developments in NCC, Clark Freeport Zone, Clark International Airport, and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Aileen Zosa, Clark Development Corporation (CDC) Chairman Atty. Edgardo Pamintuan, CDC Vice President for Engineering Services Group (ESG) Dennis C. Legaspi, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) Officer-In-Charge Darwin Cunanan and TIEZA Division Manager Donald Maldonado welcomed the delegation led by Philippine Ambassador to Australia Hellen De La Vega.

Former President and Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also delivered a message for the delegation through a video message.

“The province of Pampanga has already prepared its land development plan with Clark as its hub, and implementing this is underway. The BCDA has integrated four major contiguous investment districts, mainly the Clark Freeport Zone, Clark Global City, Clark International Airport, and Subic. My wish related to your visit is for the Philippines to have closer ties and expand the depth of scope of our economic cooperation with Australia and New Zealand,” Arroyo said. 

Meanwhile, in his speech, Pamintuan thanked the delegation for visiting Clark and for choosing the Philippines as an investment destination. He also mentioned that the business mission will fortify the economic cooperation between Australia and the investment hubs in the Philippines.

“Your visit signifies the strengthening of the economic partnership between Australia and the Freeport Zones in Clark, Subic, represented by Bases Conversion and Development Authority, Clark International Airport Corporation, Clark Development Corporation, and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority,” he said.

Pamintuan also cited how new investment opportunities will intensify the promotion of inclusive development that will benefit the communities surrounding the Freeport.

“The forging of new investment and trade cooperation will benefit the local government units that form massive economic and investment corridor traversed by the Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway,” he added.

For her part, Zosa, in her presentation, underscored the suitability of Clark as an investment hub.

“Our jewel is really Clark. It’s the biggest and has the best potential for unlocking the value of these prime properties,” she added.

Aside from Clark, the delegation also visited the areas of Bataan and Subic for other set of activities that include investment briefings and business-to-business meetings.

USHERING MORE OPPORTUNITIES IN CLARK.  Delegates from Australia, led by Philippine Ambassador to Australia H.E. Hellen De La Vega (8th from left, first row) and Tourism and Multicultural Affairs Minister Zoe Bettison (7th from left, first row), recently visited Clark Freeport Zone and New Clark City to learn about the areas’ developments and potential investment opportunities.  BCDA President and CEO Aileen Zosa (5th from left, first row), Clark Development Corporation (CDC) Chairman Atty. Edgardo Pamintuan (6th from left, first row), CDC Vice President for Engineering Services Group (ESG) Dennis C. Legaspi (9th from right, second row), Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) Officer-In-Charge Darwin Cunanan (3rd from left, first row) and TIEZA Division Manager Donald Maldonado welcomed the delegates and presented some of the developments in Clark.  Also in the photo are MTD Philippines Chairman Engr. Isaac David (3rd from right, 2nd row), and MTD Philippines President Patrick Nicholas David (extreme right, 2nd row). (CDc-CD Photo)
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NEWS

Rep. Matibag files ‘Anti No-Permit, No-Exam Bill’

August 17, 2022 11:30 p.m.

The Anti No-Permit, No-Exam Bill of Rep. Ann Matibag of San Pedro City of the first district of province of Laguna passed on first reading in the House of Representatives.

The proposed house bill (1486) seeks to allow students to take their preliminary, midterm or final examinations without the need to secure a permit as proof of payment of tuition and other school fees.

“It is really high time to get rid of the ‘no permit, no exam policy’ being imposed in schools and most universities,” said Matibag, whose anti-trans fat bill was also passed on first reading.

 “Every student has a right to finish his/her studies. Now that the opening of classes is near, no student should have his/her education interrupted just because he or she cannot pay tuition fees at the moment,” added Matibag, who is known for her initiatives for the youth and mother sectors.

Despite the ongoing global economic inflation caused by the pandemic and the rise in fuel prices, Rep. Matibag explained that the right of Filipino students to study in private and public universities must not be affected by their economic status.

Matibag believes that education is not a privilege, but an absolute right — reassuring parents that their children should be able to pursue their education without the heavy pressure to settle debts.

“In my explanatory note, it is time to have an act penalizing the ‘no permit, no exam policy’ in all educational institutions,” said Matibag, also a former Laguna provincial board member. “This is consistent with State policy to prioritize education, science and technology, arts and sports to foster patriotism.”

She added despite this mandate, many schools and college universities still prohibit their students to take their exams if they don’t settle or pay their tuition fees.

Matibag added that she is sad to learn that some colleges and universities are also capitalizing on hybrid classes, which cost them less on overhead expenses such as electricity and maintenance.

“We cannot allow our students and their parents to be exploited and used as milking cows especially during these hard economic times. The present condition is very depressing. We must correct it to guarantee the universal right to education of the Filipino youth,” Matibag added.

The Department of Education, meanwhile, announced the resumption of classes on August 22, 2022, while the full implementation of face-to-face classes will start on November 2, 2022.

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Obiena back with PH team

August 17, 2022 9:15 p.m.

Olympian Pole Vaulter Ernest John Obiena has been formally reinstated to the national team after Philippine Athletic Track and Field Association (PATAFA) endorsed his re-inclusion along with five other athletes to the Philippine Sports Commission. 

This happy development came after majority of PATAFA Board members voted on it during their special board meeting held last Saturday, August 13.

This was bared by PATAFA Executive Vice President Willie Torres, as instructed by PATAFA President Terry Capistrano.  

PSC Executive Director Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr. said that this decision takes effect this month and that the changes fall within the existing team quota of athletics.

Current PSC Officer in charge, Commissioner Bong Coo is pleased with this turn of events saying that “we are thankful to the PATAFA leadership” for taking this step to solidify the strength of our national athletics team. 

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