WASHINGTON, D.C. (5/31/13) – If you are planning to buy a vehicle online, beware. Cyber criminals are posting ads on the Internet without pictures, providing photos only upon request. Sometimes these images are sent as attachments, other times as a link to an online gallery—but in either case, the photos can and often contain malware that infects the victim’s computer.
This malicious software will direct the victim to a fake website—run by the cyber criminals—that looks nearly identical to the site where the ad was originally seen. When the victim agrees to purchase the item and makes the payment, the criminals stop all correspondence, and the victim never receives the merchandise.
The FBI urges consumers to protect themselves when shopping online. Here are a few tips for staying safe:
- Be cautious if you lose an online auction but the seller contacts you later saying the original bidder fell through.
- Make sure websites are secure and authenticated before you purchase an item online. Use only well-known escrow services.
- Research to determine if a car dealership is real and how long it has been in business.
- Be wary if the price for the item you’d like to buy is severely undervalued; if it is, the item is likely fraudulent.
- Scan files before downloading them to your computer.
- Keep your computer software, including the operating system, updated with the latest patches.
- Ensure your anti-virus software and firewalls are current—they can help prevent malware infections.
If you have fallen victim to this type of scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
Information provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
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