Monday, December 9, 2013
Hackers New Favorite Target: Online Dating Sites











Many people are wondering what´s going on with hackers and online dating sites lately. It suddenly seems like things are shifting, and banks or government websites are no longer interesting hacking targets. Attacking online dating sites is the new trend. And, there´s a reason for that.

First of all, we would have to start by saying that people´s personal data is nowadays more valuable than credit card numbers. In the black market personal information like addresses, phone numbers, family names, etc are valuable. Why is that? Criminal networks have a big database of potential scamming victims, and many of them have something in common: they are users of online dating. It´s more profitable to lure someone into giving their money voluntarily –because they´re in love- than trying to steal money out of their bank account all at once. Internet criminals with experience can scam thousands of dollars each week, and the victims send them the cash voluntarily!

The more a fraudster knows about his victim, the easier it will be to manipulate him/her.
The other reason is that this information can also be used to create fake profiles, using real people´s information. Identity theft. It´s harder to discover that someone is lying to you when you can check online that this person really exists, that he lives where he says he does, and has a daughter with that name. Sound tricky?  It is.  Thanks to people who share too much online, criminals can now take a real profile of a real person, and assume a real identity.  In Asia, for example it often takes a Philippines private investigator to uncover the truth, and by that time, it could be too late.

These 2  facts have boosted the prices that criminals are willing to pay for the personal data of people, and of course this has led to hackers attacking the online dating sites. What is worse is that the security of most of these dating websites is very poor. Banks invest a lot of money in making secure websites, because they know they are a target and there will always be hackers trying to access people´s accounts. But, online dating sites don´t feel the same about security. Since they don´t deal with money, their concept of safety is posting an article on avoiding scams, but there is little or no security regarding users' data.  Some websites like Match.com are being sued for such security issues.

What can you do as a user? Don´t share too much information online.  Be skeptical. Try creating profiles that don´t say much about your personal information, and before giving out anything personal, make sure you verify the company, individual or website is legitimate and real.

A. Hathaway
© 2013 A Hathaway





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Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The Global Impact of South African Scams












If you ever thought that getting ripped off by your online date or by finding out that he or she was not who she claimed to be was a shock, prepare yourself for the new and improved scams!  Internet criminals are getting more creative all the time, and finding new ways to drain your bank account is what they do best.  One of the newest schemes in online scams involves death threats and blackmail, and they are highly effective in getting victims to cooperate.  Romance scams are reaching new levels, and law enforcement in Johannesburg say crime syndicates operated by illegal immigrants from Nigeria are leading the way in South Africa.  The growing fraud is causing serious harm to South Africa's reputation.

Despite being Africa's most advanced country, South Africa has been ranked among the highest risk in the world in this 2012 Cyber Crime Report, right after Russia and China. This country has become not only a focus of attacks, affecting local people with phishing and fake websites, but it is also a school for many others on the arts of scamming.  Illegal immigrants often come from West Africa for a better quality of life, and then create shop in South Africa, where they can apply Nigerian crime tactics from South Africa, where victims perceive less risk.  Nigerians are migrating all over the world in fact, conducting fraud from Malaysia, U.K. and even the U.S.  Although it is hard to account for losses, 2013 will see significantly higher losses as cyber-crime continues to grow at a rapid pace.

Online scams continue to be very lucrative for fraudsters. Millions of dollars from love scams are sent every month from the U.S., U.K. and Australia to Nigeria and Ghana. West Africa is the hot zone for cyber criminals, and it is the highest risk zone in the world.  The problem is, criminals are now exporting their activity and working with accomplices in other countries, so a Nigerian scam, for example, can now take place from the U.K. or South Africa, or nearly anywhere on the globe.  Most of the con artists continue to be the nice person you meet on an online date, who suddenly has financial trouble and needs help. But, some fraudsters have found that threatening can be a more effective way of getting what they want. Imagine how would you feel if you suddenly received a death threat or blackmail from someone you met online?  Ever do a video chat or send a nude photo?  This is the perfect blackmail, and criminals can threaten you that your entire family and co-workers will see the content if you don't pay.

Criminals are use online dating and social media sites as a means to obtaining your personal information. Once they have your name, address and information about your work and family, they can start with the threats, or even steal your identity if you share too much online. The less they know about you, the safer you are.  Investigators say a background check is your best protection.

The chances of death threats and blackmail to materialize are low, but the panic is greater than anything and people end up sending the money. If you are a user of online dating sites, there are a couple of things you can do. First, protect your personal information and share less. Do not share anything that may be used to harm you. Second, if you are getting serious about someone, verify you are not being a victim of a South Africa scam.  Contact a reputable investigation firm with experienced investigators in Cape Town or Johannesburg, so you know the person you're talking to is the real.


 A. Hathaway
© 2013 A Hathaway

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Dating Scams a Common Case for Private Investigators















It is unfortunate, but true. Romance scams are one of the most common reasons why people need to hire a private investigator in today's world.  Of course, infidelity, pre employment screenings and due diligence are also common reasons, but the fact remains, romance scams have led to a steady demand for background checks.  Single people experience pressure from their friends, from their families, co-workers, neighbors, etc to meet someone. Just about anyone you know, if you're single, is trying to help you find that special someone.  Society and human nature indicates being single is just “not right.  This feeling and pressure to meet someone often leads people to start the search online, when the real world turns up no luck.  A quick review of online dating sites shows the industry has flourished and many relationships are now started online.  With this popularity, has come a significant number of dating scams.

Many private investigation companies in the U.S. agree.  When they receive a call or email from a new client, there's a good chance the call is pertaining to a romantic relationship.  And in many of those cases, the client has been a victim of romance scam or dating scam, whether they realize it or not.  The fact is, finding your match online is no easy task, and many people are unaware of the risk involved.  if you take a look at online dating statistics, surveys conducted in the United States show 87% of people think online dating is a good way to find a partner. Social gatherings or dating someone from work is an option for many people, so with limited options, many try their luck online.

With love scams now being widely published in the media, the general public and law enforcement agencies are more aware of the risk.  So, why is it that private investigators say the number of clients from dating scams continue to rise?  The answer is simple.  William Carter, Vice President of Private Investigation for Philippine PI™, explains that criminals are learning faster than the public, and are staying one step ahead.  In other words, as soon as law enforcement and the public knows about one red flag, internet scammers will change their tactics, and use new approaches to scam victims.  Dating scams, like all other fraud, continues to evolve and the internet is a great hunting ground.  Philippines investigators know better than most, as the Philippines is a high risk country for scams.  Charles Alden, CEO of Russia PI™ agrees, and says "scammers routinely change their profile."

For many, getting online dating checks has become a routine, must have form of insurance to keep you safe in the world of online dating.  This is certainly a good first step of precaution.  However, private investigators say that even when you meet in person, a dating scam or relationship fraud is always possible, so it's important to verify your potential mate in both online and offline worlds.

A. Hathaway
© 2013 A Hathaway



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Monday, September 30, 2013
How Private Investigators Can Help Reduce Business Risk
















There is a trendy topic in today's business world that is considered one of new and best management practices, and that business owners and executives not always understand very well. It is risk management. Risk management is certainly nothing new, but it's emphasis in the business climate has never been stronger. These days, no corporation or medium sized business can live without it for long. It is the process in which companies identify their risks, assess them, take action to minimize and monitor and control the chances of having an unfortunate event occurring. It may seem simple, but the reality is that it is quite complicated because all the process depends on accurate and quality information. Obtaining the right information is not so easy.

Considering that countries like Russia, China, Malaysia, Ghana, Nigeria and Philippines have been listed as high fraud risk countries, some extra precaution won´t hurt. Professional private investigators do not limit their jobs to following unfaithful spouses. These days, an international investigation company can help business clients obtain the information and evidence they need to make an informed decision, and uncover pertinent information that will point out if there is any unknown risk in your operations, partner or investment that you're considering.

Consider the following situations where investigators can add significant value:

1. Hiring. Recruiting new people is always a risk regardless of the level. Discreet investigations can minimize the risk of a negligent-hiring lawsuit when hiring internationally. A pre-employment screening will help your business minimize the risk of hiring someone that is unqualified, unethical or not who they claim to be. Making sure you have an honest candidate is the first step and one of the most important in risk management.

2. Assessing your value chain. Providers have a great weight when it comes to your business sustainability because they are part of your reputation. Your company is at risk when your providers decide to ignore anti-corruption and trade control laws, or international treaties on fair commerce. In a globalized world, where emerging economies like the Philippines, China and India are providing a great portion of manufactured goods and services to developed countries and clients, verifying your foreign business contacts is essential.

3. Investment opportunities. Reducing risk when investing overseas starts by obtaining reliable, accurate and hard to obtain information. In most cases, getting the facts you need and verifying a reputation of a person or company in a foreign country, or checking to see if a factory or office really exists, requires the support of a private investigator in that country with access to local information, who speaks the language and can verify the facts.

4. Company verifications. A company verification will provide information on stock ownership, legal registration, operations, reputation, verification of the management, court and litigation history, assets, and screening the case for fraud. If you're planning to put your money in South East Asia, Africa, China, Latin America or India, or even Eastern Europe, you had better be sure the company and contact you are dealing with are legitimate.

5. Mergers and acquisitions. These might be the only situations in which companies are really aware of financial risk and really do their homework, but due diligence is often done in house and does not adequately identify risk and verify foreign contacts at the same level that experienced private investigators do. Think of an investigator on the ground where you need him as your eyes and ears, and a wise form of insurance to have. They can obtain independent references, photographs offices and facilities, conduct asset searches, and verify all business and legal filings, and properly screen the case for fraud.

Risk management starts with being able to obtain useful and precise information at the right time. Be safe. When considering a new investment or new partnership, contact a professional.

A. Hathaway
© 2013 A. Hathaway

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Friday, September 13, 2013
What Women Should Know About Online Dating Scams












When we think of romance scam victims, we usually picture senior men or women who fall for the gorgeous looks of a “supermodel”, and lose their minds –and earnings - to the dream of marrying Mr. or Ms. Perfect. Although this does happen, statistics on online dating reveal a different story. In the United States, 19 million women use the Internet to look for a romantic partner. Men use dating sites slightly more than women, but women are much more likely to fall victims of online dating scams.

Most of the cases of scamming reported to the FBI sponsored Internet Crime Complaint Center last year come from women in their fifties, but the most surprising figure is the amount of losses: women in this age group lost an approximate of $34 million, which represents 61% of all reported losses resulting from romance scams. Keep in mind these figures are for the U.S. only, and private investigators estimate that the real losses may be 10 times this amount, due to the fact that very few victims report the crime. Sadly, most victims are too ashamed to admit or report being a scam to the authorities. Others understand there is little or nothing that can be done, so they deal with it and move on without reporting.

It is true that the FBI statistics shed some light on the growing problem with scams and fraud, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. It is also true that by reporting the crime, very little or nothing will be done by the FBI or any other government agency. The numbers simply serve as a warning to the public.

Middle aged women are the most vulnerable in the U.S., according to the statistics. In most cultures, women are raised to be very conscious about their safety. They are constantly warned of an innumerable threats that could endanger their lives. But, as time goes on, and older women become more active on the internet, the threat seems to fade away. Women feel safe inside the comfort of their homes, and don't always realize there are some experienced criminal targeting them for identity theft, romance scam or other crime. International investigators say the risk for scams is only getting worse.

American society has seen a transformation in which women are often the breadwinners, so they have money and hence are an attractive target for online criminals seeking to target you for identity theft, romance scams and other crimes. Knowing that women are now primary targets of fraud on social networks, online dating, and other internet based crime, women need to be alert and highly skeptical when meeting people via the internet. When in doubt, a background check from a reputable private investigation company is a wise move, and can be a valuable tool to minimize your risk.

Internet criminals need information about you to make become their next victim or steal your identity. Private experts and law enforcement agencies warn that many online and real world crimes start by individuals sharing too much information on the internet. If a criminal can find your birth date, address, photo, employer, and interests on the internet, you might just be the perfect victim.

About the Guest Author: Maria Taylor is an Investigation Analyst for Wymoo® International, a professional private investigation firm based in Florida, specializing in international background checks, private investigation and due diligence. Visit the company website at Wymoo.com
 
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Friday, August 23, 2013
Investigators Urge Caution with Investments Scams













Thousands of people around the world have been victims of investment scams. Such scams can target individuals on up to corporations and the losses at the global level, annually, are staggering. An Australian fraud authority recently reported that in 2012 the losses related to this kind of reported fraud were close to $93 million dollars for individuals in Australia alone. Investigators say that only 5%, approximately, ever report the crime. And this number doesn't include companies and corporations, and this is the figure is just for Australia. When combining other countries such as the U.K., Canada and the U.S., and adding company losses, the numbers quickly get into the billions. The statistics are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scam activity.

Certain types of commodities, like oil and gold, have been used as easy bait by criminals conducting fraud. However, there is a wide range of approaches that a criminal will try to sell you; from coal to properties, to stock options, to cheap suppliers. Regardless of the offer the promise, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. With internet criminals quickly learning the most effective methods, being skeptical alone is no longer enough.

Investment scams succeed because it looks like the real deal, the one we are supposed to get just once in our lifetime. Or, it is the perfect solution to you or your business at the right time. For international deals, it is often impossible to verify the real opportunity from the con artist or false company unless you have an investigator on the ground in that foreign country to verify the company, management, legal filings, reputation, and offices and facilities. Evidence from a background check investigation can be a valuable tool in lowering your risk.

International investigators in London and New York are reporting a significant increase in scam cases involving false companies, fake stocks, fraudulent websites, and other investment scams. The threat is increasingly coming from countries like China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Russia, although investigators urge caution and say that no country is immune from fraud.

The goal of the scammer is always financial gain, but experts say be skeptical and remember the criminal doesn't have to ask for money to steal your personal data, money or even identity. There are many ways that criminals reach their objective. According to the numbers on Statistic Brain, identity theft victims in the U.S. alone total almost 12 million victims per year!

In other fraud cases, companies or individuals may send an initial payment or investment to a company or individual in Asia, and the money will never be seen again. The Internet is a great tool for investing but is also a perfect place for fraud to flourish. Be safe and verify.

A. Hathaway
© 2013 A. Hathaway

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Romania Romance a Dangerous Game, Say Investigators












Romania is known worldwide for its beautiful women and enticing culture.  For many people it is where they find something that can change their lives forever - love.  Romania in recent years has emerged onto the international market like never before, thanks to online dating and social media.  While the economy has struggled to recover in Romania, many young women (and scammers) are finding a way out to a better life, and the internet makes it easy to meet foreigners.

Meeting people online is popular because it makes dating simple, but it is also a dangerous game, say investigators.  The current economic situation is one of the reasons why law enforcement is seeing a growing trend in dating scams that take place from Romania.  There have been many victims in the U.K. and in the U.S., and now dating background checks are growing in popularity as a valuable tool to help minimize the risk.  The slow economy has had devastating effects, causing a lot of struggling for many people. In this kind of scenario, you can count on a criminality rise.

Dating investigation services can help clients verify if the person who they are dealing with is who he or she claims to be.  There is no shortage of honest and beautiful women seeking real romance in Romania with foreigners, but the scammers and gold diggers are often hard to detect.

Social networks and major online dating sites have millions of subscribers, and have no effective way to screen and verify all their users.  That's not their business, and they simply are not capable of such an enormous task.  It's the job of users to be skeptical and know the warning signs, and to get a dating background check when needed, to lower your risk and be safe online.

It doesn´t really matter which site you might be visiting, the fact that your relationship is taking place online is already a risk. Keep in mind that there are no fraud free dating sites. Should you stop meeting people online? Probably not.  But you do need to be careful about it and watch out for red flags.  Even though law enforcement agencies are working on reduce the crime, the fact is that the cases are growing and so far law enforcement has had no way to shut these people down.

Once your money has been stolen there is not much you can do, except for filing a crime report. However, you won´t get your money back and chances are your case won't even be looked at by anyone.  You will simply become part of another database!   Be smart and be skeptical of all online profiles.  Consider a dating background check to protect yourself and verify your partner.

So before you get engaged in any kind of relationship with emotional or financial investment, think twice. If there is any doubt, remember it is better to be careful, than to be a victim.

A Hathaway
© 2013 A Hathaway


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How to Find a Good International Private Investigator



Whether it's for business or pleasure, the demand for international private investigators is growing.  More companies, big and small, are doing business overseas with new business contacts, new companies, unknown connections and investors, and unverified websites.  That is where the opportunity is in many cases.  After all, with no risk there is no reward.  Online dating and social networks have also fueled the demand for professional private investigators around the world as internet users try to verify their online romance or friend they meet online.

International background checks are among the most sought after services provided by private investigator companies specializing in international cases. International investigators are those private investigation companies with offices or field investigators in multiple countries around the world, who can help you verify situations, people and businesses in other countries. 

In other words, international investigators are the private investigator solution for cases in foreign countries, for business and person reasons.  Services include background checks, due diligence, asset searches, surveillance, criminal cases, employment screening, and others.

Once you find a reputable professional to handle your case, the rest can be easy.  The trouble is how to find a good international investigator.  For clients needing due diligence on a company in China, West Africa, Russia or the Baltic region, it might not be easy to hire someone local.  There are language barriers and trusting someone you've never met on the other side of the world can be difficult.  Need surveillance on a girlfriend in the Philippines or Colombia?  Who can you trust to do the job?  Even a nice private investigator website isn't always a sign you can trust.

A good start would be searching Google for 'international private investigators' or 'international background checks' or 'international due diligence'.  You can also try an international private investigator directory and contact a few of them on the list to compare quotes and options.  Once you find some websites to compare, look for trust seals such as Truste, McAfee and the Better Business Bureau to be sure you're dealing with a legitimate website and company.  Check the contact us page to make sure the company has a real office and where they are located.

sk for references and search Google for the company name or investigator name to see what others are saying about the company.  See if the investigator is available for a phone call to discuss your case, and be sure the investigator has a team on the ground where you need them.

A Hathaway
© 2013 A Hathaway 



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