Cybercrime In Harris County | How does the Eiffel Tower and Imposters relate to Harris County?
In 1925, the Eiffel Tower had grown into disrepair and Parisians had become tired of paying for its upkeep. About this time, Deputy Director General of the Ministère de Postes et Télégraphes met with a group of small business owners. The Director told them about very secret plans to sell the Tower. He showed them his credentials, then asked each business owner to submit a bid for purchasing the tower and tearing it down for scrap metal. He cautioned them all to keep the plan secret to avoid any backlash from citizens who might be against the plan.
The Director sold the Eiffel Tower to the highest bidder, collected the funds, and then quickly left town. As it turned out, there was no plan to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal and there was no Deputy Director General of the Ministère de Postes et Télégraphes. The credentials had been forged. The scrap metal dealers had all been duped by the imposter who was just an ordinary scamming citizen, Victor Lustig. The unsuspecting “winner” of the deal was so mortified by being tricked, he refused to press charges to avoid any further embarrassment.
Although this is not Paris, and selling the Eiffel Tower is not under discussion, government imposters are committing cyber crimes right here in Harris County to dupe unsuspecting individuals and small businesses out of their hard-earned money. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued some warnings about various cybersecurity imposter scams currently being used.
Cybercrime: You’ve Won a Government Sponsored Lottery or Sweepstakes
You may receive an email, text message, or phone call informing you that you have won a government-sponsored lottery or sweepstakes. The imposter may use a legitimate sounding name, like the National Sweepstakes Bureau, which does not exist. They also may use a legitimate name like the Federal Trade Commission.
Everything looks legitimate. Then, they tell you all you have to do to collect your winnings is first to pay the taxes. Or, maybe you will need to pay a service charge. Or, to pay an insurance fee to some well-known insurance company. They tell you that the faster you wire the money to who and where they tell you to, the quicker you will receive your award.
Beware: The government will never, ever ask you to pay any money to receive the money you won in sweepstakes or lottery. If you fall for this trick, the imposter will take your money and you will receive nothing.
Cybercrime: Charity Imposters in Response to Natural Disasters
Harris County residents know what it is like to live through a natural disaster. Fortunately, there are always charity organizations ready to help those who have suffered a loss. Unfortunately, there are also charity organization imposters ready to scam those willing to help those survivors who are in need.
The IRS warns taxpayers about fraudulent schemes. It says they “normally start with unsolicited contacts by telephone, social media, email or in-person using a variety of tactics.” Just a few examples of the tactics they may use include:
- Creating a bogus website with a name similar to a legitimate charity. They try to trick people into sending donations along with personal financial information.
- They often claim to be working with the IRS to help victims file claims for their loss to get tax refunds. This is not true.
- They may use the name of a legitimate charity, but direct payments to a site where the impersonator gets the funds, not the charity.
Individuals or small businesses who choose to donate to charities should never provide any personal financial information. Never send the organization cash, and pay only by check or credit card. More information about how to determine whether or not an organization is legitimate can be found at the IRS website.
When you think of cybercrime, you likely think you are not vulnerable if you are not using a device, but, there are physical threats to your confidential information. Thieves break in and steal hard drives, or obtain access to information left unprotected on office computers. You still need to have some of the following protections in place:
- Develop a pleasant working environment where employees have a sense of loyalty to the company so they will want to protect it and will watch for threats to protected and confidential information.
- Utilize security doors with password protected or access card entry.
- Use surveillance cameras both inside and outside of your facility.
- Install alarms that alert to unauthorized physical entry.
- Guard the server room so only those who are authorized can enter.
In this era of almost daily technological advancements, you cannot be too careful when it comes to protecting your personal and business information from a cyber attack.
At SMB Integrations, we have rapid-response IT support and cutting-edge technology solutions so we can step in to assist with your losses when your cybersecurity failed, making your business a victim of cybercrime. Contact us at our Houston headquarters for a free consultation.