FUKUTOMII GAZETTE – Frauds and scams with mails and phones

Dr. Steve Wong黃楚祺博士


Every day I receive hundreds of emails, some of which are spam, email marketing, and scammer emails. A reason for these unwanted emails might be from registrations of my email when checking in to a hotel, boarding a flight, logging in to a free Wi-Fi or attending exhibitions. My personal information has been used for communication and marketing purposes and also sold to other parties who may use it for legitimate or illegal purposes.

After my email was hacked, hackers sent an email to our supplier informing them of new payment details and for payments to be deposited to a new bank account. Fortunately, colleagues were alerted and, after doing some double-checking, successfully prevented any financial loss. Furthermore, hackers have used my email to invite friends and other contacts to join their social platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and LinkedIn, to obtain more information and expand their contacts to pursue illegal activities.

I often need to share my passport, driving license, and credit card details through WeChat or WhatsApp to apply for e-visa, hotel bookings and car rentals, and I have realized this is a very risky action. Recently, I was contacted by a US government department informing me that someone had stolen my personal information and I needed to reconfirm my details. In the past, I set up my PIN with my birth date for payments or to confirm my identity. Such action amounts to voluntary disclosure of my PIN; if someone steals my bank account, I would not be eligible for compensation as a victim.

Nowadays, we often receive emails inducing a claim of funds of over millions of dollars, or we receive messages and WhatsApp invitations introducing investment projects with lucrative returns. Male recipients usually get messages from female senders with attractive profile pictures, and vice versa for female recipients. According to survey results, among the victims, women aged (between 40 and 50 years old) top the list with love scams, followed by men over 50 with investment scams. For example, a friend met a female investment consultant on the Internet. After the initial profit, he did not withdraw the investment but instead increased

the investment amount. Once the accumulated investment and returns reached about USD 100,000, the investment advisor disappeared.

When I receive emails from unknown senders, I check the email details and then block them. Some emails are found to be compromised and are scam emails, the most common being donations in the name of the United Nations, DHL, and Amazon. Hackers use these emails to extract information for other illegal activities. Upon further checking the sender’s email address, we find that these are fake.

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