Wisconsin Emergency Management

Cyber Security Awareness Cyber Scams and Scoundrels

Cyber Criminals are diabolically genius in finding ways to victimize computer and mobile device users. These scoundrels are using every scam they can think of to steal money and identities. In 2015, Wisconsin residents lost more than $10 million in scams and rip-offs, with a total loss across the country of just over $1 billion.

Click here for 2015 Internet Crime Report

Click here for 2014 Wisconsin Internet Crime Report

Romance Scams: Sometimes finding love can not only break your heart but also your bank account. Perpetrators scout the Internet for victims often through chat rooms, online dating sites and social media networks. These individuals seduce victims with small gifts, poetry, claims of common interest or the promise of constant companionship. Once the scammers gain the trust of their victims, they start asking for money. Last year victims across the country lost more than $203 million in these romance scams, more than $3 million in Wisconsin alone.

Auto Sales Fraud: Scammers attract potential buyers by offering vehicles at below market prices. The scam is there is no vehicle. They refuse to meet in person or allow an inspection of the auto prior to sale. To make the deal appear legitimate, the criminal instructs the buyer to wire full or partial payment to a third-party agent via a wire transfer service, and to fax the payment receipt to the seller as proof of payment. The criminal pockets the money but does not deliver a vehicle. In a new twist, the criminals have attempted to pose as dealers instead of individuals selling a single car. This allows them to advertise multiple vehicles for sale at one time on certain platforms and attracting more victims.

Real Estate Fraud: These include rental scams where criminals take information from legitimate homes for sale ads and post it with their own email addresses on housing rental lists. Potential renters are then instructed to send money via a wire transfer service and in some cases fill out credit applications asking for personal information and social security numbers. Also beware of Timeshare and Loan Modification scams. In 2015, there were almost 12,000 victims that lost $41 million in real estate online fraud.

Intimidation/Extortion Scams: There are many of these types of scams including one where victims receive phone calls allegedly claiming to be legitimate software companies. The victims are told that malicious software (malware) has been detected on their computer. The criminal urges the victim to log on to their computer where they appear to demonstrate how the computer is infected. They then offer to rid the computer of malware for fees ranging from $49 to $450. More than $14 million was lost last year in these scams.

Government Impersonation E-mail Scams:Investigators received complaints containing names of various government agencies and high-ranking government officials being used in spam attacks in an attempt to defraud consumers. In 2015, $12 million were lost across the country by these scams.

FBI list of scams

ReadyWisconsin is an initiative of Wisconsin Emergency Management designed to educate and empower Wisconsinites to prepare for
and respond to all kinds of emergencies including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

Wisconsin Emergency Management
2400 Wright St.
Madison, WI 53704
Phone: 608.242.3000     Fax: 608.242.3247