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Fake E-Mails Purport to be from Government Agencies

Thousands of fraudulent e-mails are making the rounds posing to come from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and also the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Justice Department. Identity thieves have been sending these bogus e-mails to consumers to make them give out their financial information.

Associate director of FTC's unit of marketing practices, Lois Greisman, reminded users that this agency was the one to bring them the 'Do Not Call Registry' and 'CAN SPAM'. Referring to the anti-commercial spam law of 2003, Greisman argued that at least FTC wouldn't distribute unsolicited e-mails. FoxNews reported this on July 26, 2007.

Online criminals send out fake e-mails to dupe unsuspecting users into divulging personal and financial details to help the criminals steal those users' identity. One such phony e-mail message tells recipients that they would get a tax refund. Another informs that the IRS's Criminal Investigation Division is scrutinizing the (targeted) recipient.

Both the FTC and IRS are the most recent institutions under the phishing scam exploitations, leaving credit card issuers and large banks out of the trend. According to analysts who keep a check on online crime, while phishing scams commonly hijack financial institutions, hoax e-mails purporting to be from federal agencies is increasing and it reflects the extent to which criminals exploit the authority and familiarity of government departments.

Last month (June 2007), FTC said that banking and corporate executives have also received malicious e-mails containing spyware attachments claiming to be correspondence from the commission. But the agency officials said those who receive such e-mails should suspect them immediately simply because federal agencies almost never communicate with consumers over e-mails.

Phishing could mean that in economic terms, victims lose significantly while perpetrators gain substantially. Recently, the Government Accountability Office reported that consumers lost approximately one billion dollar annually due to phishing scams.

Inspite of the awareness programs to tell people about the risk in clicking unknown links or opening spam mail attachments, many users fail to follow the advice. The growth of organized hackers with financial motives has been a major transition in cyber crime during the past decade, said Dave Marcus, a research manager at McAfee Inc, as reported by FoxNews.

Related article: Fake Spam Mail Announces Australian PM’s Heart Attack

» SPAMfighter News - 8/4/2007

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